Reviews for Cambridge Spies : The Untold Story of Maclean, Philby, and Burgess in America


Kirkus Reviews 1991 May
It is remarkable that, as the publisher claims, no comprehensive assessment--utilizing information derived under the Freedom of Information Act--of the espionage activities in the US of British spies Maclean, Philby, and Burgess has appeared from an American source until the publication of this book. It is all the more remarkable, even for those who have followed the story closely, in that this account by Newton, a former State Department executive, calls for a considerable revision in our understanding of the period following WW II. For more than four years, Newton reports, Donald Maclean, regarded as one of the stars of the British Foreign Office, was at the center of Anglo-American efforts to coordinate opposition to Stalin. At critical moments--during the period when the Soviet Union was acting with almost inexplicable boldness in Eastern Europe--he was thus in a position to assure Stalin that the US had virtually no atomic bombs in its arsenal. During the Korean War, he passed on the information that the US had taken the decision not to use atomic weapons except in the most extreme circumstances-- information that could have been critical in China's decision to intervene. By comparison, the damage done by Philby and Burgess was much less important. Nobody emerges well from this narrative: as Newton notes, in the cover-up the British withheld information from the Americans, the CIA from the FBI, the FBI from the State Department, and the Atomic Energy Commission from all the others and from Congress as well. We are inevitably left with questions that may never be answered--for example, why the Soviets allowed Burgess, a drunken, indiscreet, promiscuous homosexual, to blow Philby's cover--but this account provides us with the fullest and most perceptive analysis of an important phase in Soviet espionage. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 1991 June #1
Burgess and Maclean and Philby and Blunt. Even in the post-Cold War world these names are a dark talisman, a brooding set of icons, for the darkest underside of the struggle of West against East. Their story has been told in countless books, films, and articles, and provides the real world backdrop for the novels of John Le Carre and Graham Greene. Newton's book is a first-class and well-researched addition to a generally good literature. It proposes new psychological ideas and facts, and most importantly casts bright new light on what these Establishment guys did in the United States. Recommended for spy and history collections.-- Henry Steck, SUNY Coll. at Cortland Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1991 April #3
This is the first book to detail the U.S. activities of Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess. The period covered is 1944 to 1951, when the ``Cambridge spies'' served in the British embassy in Washington, D.C., while conducting highly effective espionage for the Soviets. The dominant figure in these suspenseful pages is Donald Maclean, whom former CIA director Richard Helms described as ``the most valuable known Soviet agent ever to operate in the West.'' Freelance writer/filmmaker Newton reveals how Maclean provided Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin with a direct pipeline to important Western strategy conferences; at the same time he was exhibiting flagrantly self-abasing behavior in Washington social circles. Newton also describes Maclean's sensational escape with Burgess in 1951 as they defected to Moscow. (Philby joined them later.) Newton expertly guages the damage done to the West by this treacherous trio and attempts without much success to answer the nagging question of why they did it. (June) Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information.

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