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The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives Hardcover – April 10, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (April 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300078064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300078060
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #952,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the early 1920s, the newly founded Soviet Union established intelligence-gathering networks in several Western European capitals. Initially charged with spying on White Russians and other enemies of the Bolsheviks, these enclaves soon turned to collecting information on all kinds of political and economic activities in their host countries--and also to recruiting foreign nationals to serve the Soviet regime. The Soviets, write British historian Nigel West and retired Russian intelligence officer Oleg Tsarev, were especially successful in Britain, where they were able to make use of a band of disaffected university-based intellectuals who went into government service and who, in time, turned from coffeehouse revolutionaries to active traitors: John Cairncross, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, and, perhaps most infamous of them all, Kim Philby.

From the late 1930s to the 1950s, they operated a spy ring in England that gave to the Soviet Union secret information ranging from Allied troop strength in North Africa in World War II to British atomic-weapons development in the early years of the cold war. West and Tsarev reproduce numerous dispatches from these spies, contextualizing them in a detailed narrative that vividly describes the day-to-day hardships involved in forging a career in espionage. For instance, when the East German "atom spy" Klaus Fuchs had to reckon with postwar gas rationing as a factor in arranging rendezvous points with his agents, he had to confine them to London and close to the watchful British counterintelligence service. The story takes as many turns as a John Le Carré thriller, and students of the cold war will find it of much interest. --Gregory McNamee

Review

This is the most sensational volume to appear so far in Yale University Press's rapidly growing library on Soviet espionage. . . . Richly detailed and slickly written, The Crown Jewels is a riveting read. -- Virginia Quarterly Review

More About the Author

Born in Lambeth, Nigel West was educated at a Roman Catholic monastery and London University. While still a student he worked as a researcher for the authors Ronald Seth and Richard Deacon, who both specialised in security and intelligence issues.

In 1977 Nigel joined BBC TV's General Features Department to make television documentaries, and he worked on the SPY! and ESCAPE! series. His first book, written with Richard Deacon, was based on the first series and was entitled SPY! Thereafter he was commissioned to write a wartime history of the Security Service, MI5, which was published in 1981, and since then he has averaged one book of non-fiction a year, including The Secret War for the Falklands released in January 1997.

He has concentrated on security and intelligence issues and his controversial books invariably hit the headlines. He was injuncted by the Attorney-General in 1982 and was served a Public Interest Immunity Certificate signed by the Home Secretary in 1987. He was voted 'The Experts' Expert' by a panel of other spy writers in the Observer in November 1989 and The Sunday Times has commented:

'His information is so precise that many people believe he is the unofficial historian of the secret services. West's sources are undoubtedly excellent. His books are peppered with deliberate clues to potential front-page stories.'

Nigel West often speaks at intelligence seminars and has lectured at both the KGB headquarters in Dzerzhinsky Square and at the CIA headquarters in Langley. He is now a member of the faculty at the Centre for Counterintelligence & Security Studies in Washington DC (www.cicentre.com).

His greatest coup was tracking down the wartime double agent GARBO, who was reported to have died in Africa in 1949. In fact West traced him to Venezuela, and they collaborated on GARBO, published in 1985. He was also the first person to identify and interview the mistress of Admiral Canaris, the German intelligence chief, and he was responsible for the exposure of Leo Long and Edward Scott as Soviet spies.

His recent titles include Crown Jewels, based on files made available to him by the KGB archives in Moscow; VENONA, which disclosed the existence of a GRU spy-ring operating in London throughout the war, headed by Professor J B S Haldane and the Hon. Ivor Montagu: and The Third Secret, an account of the CIA's intervention in Afghanistan. In Mortal Crimes, published in September 2004, investigates the scale of soviet espionage in the Manhattan Project, the Anglo-American development of an atomic bomb.

In 2005 he edited The Guy Liddell Diaries, a daily journal of the wartime work of MI5's Director of Counter-Espionage. He also published a study of the Comintern's secret wireless traffic, MASK: MI5's Penetration of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and a counter-intelligence textbook, The Historical Dictionary of British Intelligence.

He has lectured at the Smithsonian institute in Washington DC, speaks regularly for Hilton Special Events, on the QE2 and QM2, and for Seabourn, Regent Crystal Cruises. His topics include: GARBO: The Spy Who Saved D-Day; VENONA: The Greatest Secret of the Cold War; The Cambridge Five: The True Story of Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby. Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross; Double Agents of World War II; The History of the British Secret Intelligence Service; James Bond: The Fact and fiction of 007; Combatting Terrorism: How the IRA were beaten in Northern Ireland; Enigma: Bletchley Park and the Codebreakers; Molehunt: The Search for Soviet Spies.

In 2003 Nigel West was awarded the US Association of Former Intelligence Officers' first Lifetime Literature Achievement Award.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 111 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is the most sensational volume to appear so far in Yale University Press's rapidly growing library on Soviet espionage during the 1930s and 40s. The authors-espionage journalist Nigel West (pseudonym of Rupert Allason, a Conservative ex-MP) and Oleg Tsarev, a former KGB operative posted to London-accessed Moscow Center files to confirm, disconfirm, or extend what has long been known, believed, or suspected about the Cambridge Five (Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross) as well as a host of lesser but highly effective agents. Richly detailed and slickly written, The Crown Jewels is a riveting read and a potential supplement to Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassilev's The Haunted Wood and another Yale volume Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr. But let the reader beware: West does not play entirely straight with the reader. Wrapping up a long and important chapter on Cairncross, he asserts that after exposure in 1979, the first atomic spy "fled to France and completed his memoirs shortly before his death in 1995." In fact, Cairncross lived in Italy for well over a decade after The London Times named him and a half-dozen "mole journalists" (including West) began detailing his activities, often with Cairncross's limited and self-serving cooperation. But-most interestingly-during Cairncross's last months, spent not in France but in the Cotswolds (with the permission of H.M. Government), West himself ghost-wrote, packaged, and marketed the first version of the verbally incapacitated Fifth Man's "recollections", The Enigma Spy. Based on Cairncross's fragmentary notes and his second wife's recall of his table talk, that book, published in 1997, is now widely discredited.Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By F. S. L'hoir VINE VOICE on February 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is worth reading if only for the chapters on the Great Illegals; Blunt and Burgess; The Vegetarian (John Cairncross); Atom Secrets; and the Philby Reports--excerpts from the KGB files. Many of these present hard intelligence. However, Philby's detailed report on wild goings-on in London clubs (including The Nuthouse) and their frequenters (including Happy Harbottle, Snooty Parker, and Buffles Milbanke) must surely have been a colossal joke at the expense of the KGB, which was always pestering Philby to answer the same tiresome questions over and over. West's chapters on the early history of the Soviet Secret Service, which seem to be well documented, are more of interest to the scholar than the lay person. But I must say that I found the book absorbing as a whole.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By avi ziv tal on March 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Got the book and it is fine.
Some of the information that was unkown at the time of writting this book
has become available so you may find here and there some non-accurate information
but in general it is OK
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Glyn Pearson on November 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nigel West's books are always good, but none of these writers on espionage is a patch on Chapman Pincher. The KGB records have only been selectively made available, and in the end all we get is confirmation of what had already been figured out anyway.
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