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Spy Game Regrets

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The BBC has got an interesting bit here on the memoir former British intelligence agent Anthony Blunt, who shared confidential information with the Soviet Union’s Comintern during and after WWII.  Blunt’s regrets and opinions on what led him to become a turncoat are only now available to the public, as he turned over his manuscript in 1984 with the provision that it remain locked for 25 years.  The British-Russian espionage rivalry may have become more heated in recent years, but it is nothing compared to this.  I also recommend checking out this 2001 piece on Blunt published in the London Review of Books.

In it, he describes his recruitment by Moscow: “I found that Cambridge had been hit by Marxism and that most of my friends among my junior contemporaries – including Guy Burgess – had either joined the Communist Party or were at least very close to it politically.”

However, Burgess – who had already begun working for Stalin’s Comintern – persuaded him not to join the party but instead to work undercover.

“What I did not realise at the time is that I was so naive politically that I was not justified in committing myself to any political action of this kind,” says Blunt.

“The atmosphere in Cambridge was so intense, the enthusiasm for anyanti-fascist activity was so great, that I made the biggest mistake ofmy life.”

Blunt’s memoirs reveal little about his espionage activities duringWorld War II, during which he passed on top-secret material decodedfrom German radio traffic.

He claims he later became disillusioned with Moscow, wishing only to “return to my normal academic life”.

However, he says his knowledge of the others in the ring made this impossible. (…)

Maclean’s defection led to suspicion falling on Blunt, who was also advised to flee.

But Blunt wrote: “I realised quite clearly that I would take any risk in this country, rather than go to Russia.”