Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Cambridge Spies


The literature on the Cambridge spies falls roughly into four categories, each correlated with a significant historical event.

The first group of books was published as a result of the Burgess-Maclean defections in 1951. The second flurry of books followed Philby's defection in 1963. The third large number of works resulted from the official unmasking of Blunt in 1979. Finally, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 1990s have seen a number of books, some of which were based heavily on KGB files and the memoirs of former KGB agents.

Each subsequent group of books reexamined the evidence from the previous group or groups, so that there has been a constant review and reinterpretation of the lives and work of the four principals.

In many respects, the nationalities of the authors correlate with how Philby, et al, are treated. American authors tend to be unimpressed by the talents and accomplishments of the Cambridge spies, and are clearly not charmed by the elegance attributed to them. English writers are more inclined to treat the four spies more kindly. The English are particularly hard on the incompetence of MI5 and MI6, and consider the "old boy" class system of the British establishment as a significant component of the success of the spies.

Recent Russian authors (along with the Englishman Phillip Knightley, who interviewed Philby towards the end of his life) are admiring, extolling the intelligence, dedication, and charm of the Cambridge spies.

However extensive the literature on this case, Philby and Blunt remain inscrutable and unfathomable characters, while Burgess and Maclean seem weak and neurotic.

The Crime Library particularly recommends three recent works. Knightley's The Master Spy, Borovik's Philby Files: The Secret Life of Master Spy Kim Philby, and Modin's My Five Cambridge Friends all cover this bizarre story with the most complete information to date. With the exception of the speculative early works, almost everything written since 1980 has merit, and should not be ignored by the serious student of this case.


Bethell, Lord Nicholas. 1984. The Great Betrayal: The Untold Story of Kim Philby's Biggest Coup. Time Books.

Borovik, Genrikh. Philby Files: The Secret Life of Master Spy Kim Philby

Boyle, Andrew. 1979. The Fourth Man. Dial Press.

Brown, Anthony Cave.  Treason in the Blood: H. St. John Philby, Kim Philby, and the Spy Case of the Century

Carter, M.  2002.  Anthony Blunt.  Farrar Straus & Giroux

Cookridge, E.H. 1969. The Third Man: The Full Story of Kim Philby. G.P. Putnam.

Costello, John. 1988. Mask of Treachery. Morrow.

Deacon, Richard. 1986. The Cambridge Apostles: A History of Cambridge University's Elite Intellectual Secret Society. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Driberg, Tom. 1956. Guy Burgess: A Portrait with Background. Weidenfelt & Nicolson.

Hoare, Geoffrey. 1955. The Missing Macleans. Viking.

Knightley, Phillip. 1986. The Second Oldest Profession. Andre Deutsch.

Knightley, Phillip. 1989. The Master Spy. Knopf.

Lamphere, Robert. 1986. The FBI-KGB War. Random House.

Mann, Wilfrid Basil. 1982. Was There a Fifth Man? Pergamon.

Modin, Yuri.  My Five Cambridge Friends

Moynihan, Daniel Patrick. 1998. Secrecy. (Introduction by Richard Gib Powers). Yale University Press.

Newton, Verne W. 1991. The Cambridge Spies: The Untold Story of Maclean, Philby, and Burgess in America. Madison Books.

Nicolson, Harold. 1968. Diaries and Letters, Vol. 3, The Later Years, 1945-1962. Antheneum.

Page, Bruce, Leitch, David, and Knightley, Phillip. 1969. The Spy Who Betrayed a Generation. Sphere Books.

Penrose, Barrie, and Freeman, Simon. 1986. Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt. Grafton.

Philby, Eleanor. 1968. Kim Philby: The Spy I Married. Ballantine Books.

Philby, Kim. 1968. My Silent War. Grove Press.

Pincher, Harry Chapman. 1984. Too Secret Too Long. St. Martin's Press.

Seale, Parick, and McConville, Maureen. 1973. Philby: The Long Road to Moscow. Simon & Schuster.

Straight, Michael. 1983. After Long Silence. Norton.

Sutherland, Douglas. 1980. The Fourth Man. Secker & Warburg.

West, Nigel, ed. 1995. The Faber Book of Espionage. Faber & Faber.

West, Nigel, and Tsarev, Oleg. 1998. The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives. Harper Collins.

West, Rebecca. 1964. The New Meaning of Treason. Viking.

Wright, Peter. 1987. Spycatcher. Viking.

Yardley, Herbert O. n.d. American Black Chamber. Amercon Ltd.


Bennett, Alan. 1978. The Old Country. Faber & Faber.

Bennett, Alan. 1988. An Englishman Abroad. (In a single volume entitled Single Spies & Talking Heads). Summit Books.

Bennett, Alan. 1988. A Question of Attribution. (In a single volume entitled Single Spies & Talking Heads). Summit Books.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'