Espionage

Under deep suspicion in Beirut, Kim Philby still carried on regardless

16 October 2021 9:00 am

The story of the Cambridge spies has been served up so often that it has become stale — too detailed,…

The disappearing man: who was the real John Stonehouse?

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Craig Brown describes his various encounters with the MP who notoriously faked his own death in 1974

The great betrayal of Ethel Rosenberg

19 June 2021 9:00 am

Ethel Rosenberg was an exceptional woman. Born with a painful curvature of the spine to a poor family of Jewish…

The first Cambridge spy: A Fine Madness, by Alan Judd, reviewed

15 May 2021 9:00 am

For his 15th novel, the espionage writer Alan Judd turns his hand to the mystery of Christopher Marlowe’s death. The…

CIA spies lose faith

20 February 2021 9:00 am

With its grim John le Carré atmosphere, communist Eastern Europe in the late 1980s was a melancholy, out-at-elbow place. The…

Demystifying the world of espionage

31 October 2020 9:00 am

John le Carré once wrote sadly that he felt ‘shifty’ about his contribution to the glamorisation of the spying business.…

Behind the veil of secrecy: GCHQ emerges from the shadows

17 October 2020 9:00 am

The brilliance of GCHQ can now be recognised – and about time too, says Sinclair McKay

The Pearl Harbor fiasco need never have happened

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

It is sometimes said that intelligence failures are often failures of assessment rather than collection. This is especially so when…

Klaus Fuchs after his release from prison in 1959

How Klaus Fuchs’s treachery may have averted Armageddon

27 July 2019 9:00 am

When Klaus Fuchs started passing atomic secrets to the KGB, he changed the course of world events. Forget about Philby…

At the Tropicana nightclub: Dr Hasselbacher and Wormald celebrate with Milly on her 17th birthday. A scene from Carol Reed’s film of Our Man in Havana with Burl Ives, Alec Guinness and Jo Morrow

‘Where every vice was permissible’: Graham Greene’s Cuba

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Cuba meant a lot to Graham Greene. Behind his writing desk in his flat in Antibes he had a painting…

US Attorney General William Barr

Is Barr really helping Trump by slowing the release of the Mueller report?

5 April 2019 3:09 am

Poor Donald Trump. Even Mar-a-Lago may not provide much of a refuge from his cares now that it has been…

Secrets and lies: Berta Isla, by Javier Marías, reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

A novel by Javier Marías, as his millions of readers know, is never what it purports to be. Spain’s most…

The body count piles up in Mick Herron’s London Rules

24 February 2018 9:00 am

The well-written spy novel is not a hotly contested field. Le Carré, Fleming, Deighton, a few Greenes, and that’s largely…

A blast from the past

9 September 2017 9:00 am

If you had to choose one book that both typified spy fiction and celebrated what the genre was capable of…

Yes, let our spies spy – but not our bureaucrats

5 March 2016 9:00 am

One of the marks of a good Home Secretary is a healthy wariness of those in authority who come begging…

If you read one spy novel this year, read Real Tigers

6 February 2016 9:00 am

Most spy novels have a comfortable air of familiarity. We readers can take moles in our stride. We have grown…

Sins of the past haunt the latest crime fiction

9 January 2016 9:00 am

It’s often the case that present-day crimes have their roots in the past. Ian Rankin’s Even Dogs in the Wild…

Guy Burgess

James Klugmann and Guy Burgess: the wasted lives of spies

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Geoff Andrews’s ‘Shadow Man’, James Klugmann, was the talent-spotter, recruiter and mentor of the Cambridge spy ring. From 1962, aged…

Spies in the spotlight

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Spying is a branch of philosophy, although you would never guess it from that expression on Daniel Craig’s face. Its…

Rabdentse, near Pelling, the ruined former capital of Sikkim, with Mount Kanchenjunga in the distance

The story of Sikkim’s last king and queen reads like a fairy tale gone wrong

1 August 2015 9:00 am

Sikkim was a Himalayan kingdom a third of the size of Wales squeezed between China, India, Nepal and Bhutan. I…

Bletchley Park was decades ahead of Silicon Valley. So what happened?

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Gordon Corera, best known as the security correspondent for BBC News, somehow finds time to write authoritative, well-researched and readable…

Turing, Snow White and the poisoned apple

9 May 2015 9:00 am

As a young student, the atheist Alan Turing — disorientated with grief over the death of his first love Christopher…

Moura Budberg with two of her lovers, H.G. Wells and Maxim Gorky

The spy who loved (a lot): Moura Budberg’s life reads like a thriller — and may have been more interesting than she was herself

9 May 2015 9:00 am

Moura Budberg (1892–1974) had an extraordinary life. She was born in the Poltava region of Ukraine, and as a young…

The Heckler: why it’s time to kill off James Bond

11 April 2015 9:00 am

For fans of the franchise who remain unconvinced by Daniel Craig’s time on her majesty’s secret service, the stories leaking…

Cowboys and Muslims: that’s the new global power struggle, according to the latest great American novel

10 January 2015 9:00 am

‘I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: if you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.’ When ‘The…