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The astonishing story of the British spies who set out to draw America into World War II
The fascinating, improbable true story of Maxwell Knight -- the great MI5 spymaster and inspiration for the James Bond character M.
Maxwell Knight was perhaps the greatest spymaster in history. He did more than anyone in his era to combat the rising threat of fascism in Britain during World War II, in spite of his own history inside this movement. He was also truly eccentric -- a thrice-married jazz aficionado who kept a menagerie of exotic pets -- and almost totally unqualified for espionage.
Yet he had a gift for turning practically anyone into a fearless secret agent. Knight's work revolutionized British intelligence, pioneering the use of female agents, among other accomplishments. In telling Knight's remarkable story, Agent M also reveals for the first time in print the names and stories of some of the men and women recruited by Knight, on behalf of MI5, who were asked to infiltrate the country's most dangerous political organizations.
Drawing on a vast array of original sources, Agent M reveals not only the story of one of the world's greatest intelligence operators, but the sacrifices and courage required to confront fascism during a nation's darkest time.
The untold story of an enigmatic genius who changed warfare forever
In the World War II era, Geoffrey Pyke was described as one of the world's great minds -- to rank alongside Einstein. Pyke was an inventor, adventurer, polymath, and unlikely hero of both world wars. He earned a fortune on the stock market, founded an influential pre-school, wrote a bestseller, and came up with the idea for the US and Canadian Special Forces. In 1942, he convinced Winston Churchill to build an aircraft carrier out of reinforced ice.
Pyke escaped from a German WWI prison camp, devised an ingenious plan to help the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and launched a private attempt to avert the outbreak of the Second World War by sending into Nazi Germany a group of pollsters disguised as golfers.
And he may have been a Russian spy.
In 2009, long after Pyke's death, MI5 released a mass of material suggesting that Pyke was in fact a senior official in the Soviet Comintern. In 1951, papers relating to Pyke were found in the flat of "Cambridge Spy" Guy Burgess after his defection to Moscow. MI5 had "watchers" follow Pyke through the bombed-out streets of London, his letters were opened, and listening devices picked up clues to his real identity. Convinced he was a Soviet agent codenamed Professor P, MI5 helped to bring his career to an end.
Henry Hemming is the first reporter to sift through this extraordinary new information and finally tell Pyke's astonishing story in full: his brilliance, his flaws, and his life of adventures, ideas, and secrets.
The authors of The Red Web examine the shifting role of Russian expatriates throughout history, and their complicated, unbreakable relationship with the mother country--be it antagonistic or far too chummy.
The history of Russian espionage is soaked in blood, from a spontaneous pistol shot that killed a secret policeman in Romania in 1924 to the attempt to poison an exiled KGB colonel in Salisbury, England, in 2017. Russian émigrés have found themselves continually at the center of the mayhem.
"Ben Macintyre's rollicking, spellbinding Agent Zigzag blends the spy-versus-spy machinations of John le Carré with the high farce of Evelyn Waugh."--William Grimes, The New York Times (Editors' Choice)
"Wildly improbable but entirely true . . . [a] compellingly cinematic spy thriller with verve."--Entertainment Weekly
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE WASHINGTON POST
Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. In 1941, after training as German spy in occupied France, Chapman was parachuted into Britain with a revolver, a wireless, and a cyanide pill, with orders from the Abwehr to blow up an airplane factory. Instead, he contacted M15, the British Secret service, and for the next four years, Chapman worked as a double agent, a lone British spy at the heart of the German Secret Service. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began. Based on recently declassified files, Agent Zigzag tells Chapman's full story for the first time. It's a gripping tale of loyalty, love, treachery, espionage, and the thin and shifting line between fidelity and betrayal.
David E. Hoffman
A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year
It was the height of the Cold War, and a dangerous time to be stationed in the Soviet Union. One evening, while the chief of the CIA's Moscow station was filling his gas tank, a stranger approached and dropped a note into the car. The chief, suspicious of a KGB trap, ignored the overture. But the man had made up his mind. His attempts to establish contact with the CIA would be rebuffed four times before he thrust upon them an envelope whose contents would stun U.S. intelligence. In the years that followed, that man, Adolf Tolkachev, became one of the most valuable spies ever for the U.S. But these activities posed an enormous personal threat to Tolkachev and his American handlers. They had clandestine meetings in parks and on street corners, and used spy cameras, props, and private codes, eluding the ever-present KGB in its own backyard--until a shocking betrayal put them all at risk.
Drawing on previously classified CIA documents and on interviews with firsthand participants, The Billion Dollar Spy is a brilliant feat of reporting and a riveting true story of intrigue in the final years of the Cold War.