Stalin’s Englishman: the lives of Guy Burgess - biography in intelligence history
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Stalin’s Englishman: the lives of Guy Burgess, based on over thirty years of research in dozens of archives in Britain, America, Australia, Russia, France and Switzerland as well as over a hundred interviews – many with people who had never spoken before – was the first proper biography of the Cambridge spy. It produced a very different account of the dynamics of the Cambridge Spies, was critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic and won the premier US and UK intelligence book prize in 2016. Its importance lay not only in giving the first full account of the missing member of the Cambridge Spy Ring but showing Burgess was a far more important member – possibly the most important – than has hitherto been realised. It looked at the British cover up that continues to this day and attempted to assess the impact of Burgess’s spying on twentieth century history and the damage it did to Anglo-American relations and trust in the ‘British Establishment’. The book also revealed an unknown atomic spy Wilfrid Mann and raised wider questions about the use of biography to humanise intelligence history and the difficulties of researching intelligence history. This thesis aims to expand on the book drawing on subsequent research. First, to assess how my biographical research into Guy Burgess has transformed our understanding of the Cambridge spy ring as a whole and of Burgess's relative importance within it. Secondly to consider the opportunities provided by a biographical approach when writing intelligence history. Third to look at the challenges of writing intelligence biography and what techniques and sources - oral testimony as much as archival research - can be used and fourth to assess the importance of Burgess and what damage he caused thereby setting him in the wider context of the Cold War and other historical disciplines such as international relations.