The Happy Traitor - The Life of Soviet Spy George Blake (164)


Manage episode 285434073 series 2312958
By Ian Sanders. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Acclaimed author and journalist Simon Kuper, has written The Happy Traitor, the story of British spy and Soviet Union double agent George Blake, the last major British traitor of the Cold War.

In 1961, Blake was sentenced to forty-two years imprisonment – at the time, the longest sentence in modern British history. He had betrayed all the western spying operations that he knew about to the KGB. This included the names of hundreds of British agents working around the world. About forty of them are believed to have been executed. Blake is reckoned to have done as much damage to British interests as did his Moscow companions Kim Philby and Donald Maclean – perhaps more.

Today, his story is known only to a few experts, and only insofar as anything can be known for certain in the world of deceit that is spying. MI6 has never made its files on him public. Now that the master spy has died, Simon Kuper finally sets the story straight. He unravels who Blake truly was through a combination of personal interviews, research in many languages, and use of almost unseen Stasi archives. His illuminating biography tracks Blake from his beginnings as a teenage courier for the Dutch underground during the Second World War, to his sensational prison-break from Wormwood Scrubs, to his tranquil old age in a dacha outside Moscow, where Kuper caught up with and interviewed him.

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