The spy novel emerged from the intrigues of the mid-20th century for good reason. The war with the Third Reich involved an unseen cloak-and-dagger struggle between the participants, but beyond that, an even larger and longer contest took place in the shadows.
Communism gained its first major foothold in statehood with the success of the Russian Revolution at the end of World War I, a success bizarrely assisted by the massive funding provided to the revolutionaries by some Western businessmen. Armand Hammer’s father, Julius, for instance, gave the new Soviet Union $50,000 in gold to back their new currency. In exchange, he received asbestos mining and oil concessions, plus a pencil manufacturing monopoly in the USSR lasting until the Stalin era.
Soviet Russia followed a philosophy demanding international, global revolution - which, in practice, often resembled conquest by any means available, direct or indirect. While the Soviets never hesitated to use naked force when it seemed advisable, or when compelled to it by outside attack, they made intensive use of covert operations - spying, assassination, bribery, infiltration of governments and educational systems, the deployment of agents provocateur, and "agitprop" - in an effort to weaken other nations from within or possibly cause takeover by a friendly revolutionary regime.
Soviet agents operated in all European countries and others, but their main efforts naturally focused on the strongest potential rivals - Germany, the United States, and Great Britain. Intelligent, persistent, and ruthless, the Soviets succeeded in recruiting a considerable number of agents, including men from the British ruling class.
Their activities enabled the Soviets to capture and execute hundreds, if not thousands, of the opponents of their regime along with numbers of British agents. The men responsible for this unprecedented leaking of life-or-death information would enter history as the Cambridge Five - though in fact, they may have been only the core of a much larger group.
The Cambridge Five: The History and Legacy of the Notorious Soviet Spy Ring in Britain During World War II and the Cold War chronicles the war’s most infamous spy ring and its activities. You will learn about the Cambridge Five like never before.