Deceiving the Deceivers


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Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess

S. J. Hamrick

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Among the more sensational espionage cases of the Cold War were those of Moscow’s three British spies—Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess. In this riveting book, S. J. Hamrick draws on documentary evidence concealed for almost half a century in reconstructing the complex series of 1947–1951 events that led British intelligence to identify all three as Soviet agents.

Basing his argument primarily on the Venona archive of broken Soviet codes released in 1995–1996 as well as on complementary Moscow and London sources, Hamrick refutes the myth of MI5’s identification of Maclean as a Soviet agent in the spring of 1951. British intelligence knew far earlier that Maclean was Moscow’s agent and concealed that knowledge in a 1949–1951 counterespionage operation that deceived Philby and Burgess. Hamrick also introduces compelling evidence of a 1949–1950 British disinformation initiative using Philby to mislead Moscow on Anglo-American retaliatory military capability in the event of Soviet aggression in Western Europe.

Engagingly written and impressively documented, Deceiving the Deceivers breaks new ground in reinterpreting the final espionage years of three infamous spies and in clarifying fifty years of conjecture, confusion, and error in Anglo-American intelligence history.

S. J. Hamrick was a Foreign Service officer for more than two decades. In 1995–1996 he returned to the State Department as a senior policy adviser. As a young draftee he was assigned to the Army Counter Intelligence Corps. He has written seven novels under the pseudonym W. T. Tyler, including The Man Who Lost the War, The Ants of God, The Lion and the Jackal, Last Train from Berlin, and most recently The Consul’s Wife.

“A major addition to intelligence literature.”—David Murphy, author of Battleground Berlin

"The book breaks new ground in reinterpreting the final espionage years of three famous spies and in clarifying fifty years of conjecture, confusion, and error in Anglo-American history." —Cryptologia


“A remarkably well-crafted and thoroughly documented book.”—Library Journal

“A superb analysis.”—Chuck Thompson, Southwest Airlines Spirit

Deceiving the Deceivers answers numerous long-asked questions of Cold War intrigue in a manner at once assured and expert.”—R. J. Stove, The American Conservative

“Slim but provocative. . . . Hamrick brings a thriller-writer’s imagination to the otherwise familiar story, coupled with a very careful reading of the Venona material [Soviet cable traffic intercepted during World War II].”—Ernest R. May, Washington Post

"Hamrick has written a valuable book because it challenges many of our assumptions about the most-discussed espionage events of the cold war."—Phillip Knightley, New York Review of Books

Selected as a 2006 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300191462
Publication Date: November 1, 2004
320 pages, 6 x 9