The Crown Jewels


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The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives

Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev

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This lively account of Soviet foreign intelligence activity in Great Britain during the Cold War is based on documents newly released from the KGB archives, their “crown jewels,” as the KGB unofficially called its most valuable assets. Written by Nigel West, called by the Sunday Times “the unofficial historian of the secret services” and Oleg Tsarev, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, The Crown Jewels provides much new information on the activities of all the well-known British pro-Soviet spies, including Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, and Anthony Blunt, as well as many lesser-known spymasters and recruiters, reproducing many of their reports for the first time.

The book adds unsuspected dimensions to the famous Cambridge ring (including details of Burgess’s offer to murder his fellow conspirator Goronwy Rees). It also reveals a completely unknown Soviet network based in London and headed by a named Daily Herald journalist; describes the huge scale of Soviet penetration of the British Foreign Office from 1927 to 1951; explores a previously unknown spy ring in Oxford; and tells about the key role played by Blunt in supervising post-war Soviet espionage activities in London.

Nigel West, a military historian specializing in intelligence and security issues, is the author of more than a dozen books, including Molehunt. He is the European editor of the World Intelligence Review. Oleg Tsarev, a former lieutenant-colonel in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, is coauthor of Deadly Illusions.

“Crown Jewels is eminently readable and presents new insights from Soviet archives into some of the more fascinating cases.”—David E. Murphy, retired chief of CIA’s Berlin Base, chief of Soviet operations at CIA Headquarters, and the author of Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War

“A good read. . . . entertaining . . . informative.”—Jana Howlett, Independent on Saturday

“The KGB’s foreign department assigned many intelligence officers to serve in both Britain and the United States, and the rich account provided by West and Tsarev of the recruiting of the Cambridge Five also touches on the career of Michael Straight, along with those of other Americans later active in Washington and New York. It also includes new information on the cases of Ignace Reiss and Walter Krivitshky, whose defections began the unraveling of Soviet intelligence networks and ultimately led to the American spy scandals of the 1950s.”—Thomas Powers, New York Review of Books

"A perfectly readable book, especially where it concerns the first 30 years of Soviet espionage."—Oleg Gordievsky, The Spectator

"This is the most sensational volume to appear so far in Yale University Press’s rapidly growing library on Soviet espionage during the 1930’s and 40’s. . . . Richly detailed and slickly written, The Crown Jewels is a riveting read." —Virginia Quarterly Review

ISBN: 9780300078060
Publication Date: April 10, 1999
384 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

Sales Restrictions: For sale in the U.S. only

Secrets from the Cambridge Spies

Edited by Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev

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