Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
Andrew Lownie

Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess

Guy Burgess was the most important, complex and fascinating of 'The Cambridge Spies' - Maclean, Philby, Blunt - all brilliant young men recruited in the 1930s to betray their country to the Soviet Union. An engaging and charming companion to many, an unappealing, utterly ruthless manipulator to others, Burgess rose through academia, the BBC, the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6, gaining access to thousands of highly sensitive secret documents which he passed to his Russian handlers.

In this first full biography, Andrew Lownie shows us how even Burgess's chaotic personal life of drunken philandering did nothing to stop his penetration and betrayal of the British Intelligence Service. Even when he was under suspicion, the fabled charm which had enabled many close personal relationships with influential Establishment figures (including Winston Churchill) prevented his exposure as a spy for many years.

Through interviews with more than a hundred people who knew Burgess personally, many of whom have never spoken about him before, and the discovery of hitherto secret files, Stalin's Englishmanbrilliantly unravels the many lives of Guy Burgess in all their intriguing, chilling, colourful, tragi-comic wonder.

Book Details:

  • Author: Andrew Lownie
  • Published Year: 2015
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Hodder & Stoughton
    • US: St Martin's Press
    • Poland: Bellona
    • Russia: Centrepolygraph

Andrew Lownie

Andrew Lownie was born in 1961 and was educated in Britain and America. He read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he was President of the Union. He went on to gain an MSc at Edinburgh University and spend a year at the College of Law in London. After a period as a bookseller and journalist, he began his publishing career as the graduate trainee at Hodder & Stoughton. In 1985 became an agent at John Farquharson, now part of Curtis Brown, and the following year became the then youngest director in British publishing when he was appointed a director. Since 1984 he has written...
More about Andrew Lownie

Book Reviews

  • "The most comprehensive, readable and faultlessly researched account of one of Britain's most notorious (but colorful) traitors. Now we know just about all there is to know about this wretched man who betrayed friends, family, country... the lot!"
    Nigel West
  • "...a comprehensive, fascinating and startlingly revisionist life. Far from being the joker in the pack, Lownie shows that Burgess was actually the ace in the hole…surely the definitive account of Burgess’s career as a spy, and a fully rounded biography, which is inevitably damning, but also necessarily sympathetic…Lownie’s treatment of his fiendishly complicated and revelatory material is assured, and he shapes his narrative brilliantly. Stalin’s Englishman is superb, more riveting than any spy novel."
    Daily Telegraph
  • "Brilliantly crafted with lots of suspense, the many unknowns and unanswered questions about Guy Burgess have finally been revealed in Andrew Lownie’s ground-breaking biography. A must read for everyone who loves a damn good biography but also for readers following general twentieth century history. This colourful and honest portrayal of Burgess makes an important contribution to the public’s enduring fascination with the Cambridge spies and traitors."
    Amazon 5*
  • "As one of this country’s foremost literary agents, Andrew Lownie certainly knows what makes a good book, and in Stalin’s Englishman, he has delivered one of his own, many times over. This life – or, as his neat subtitle has it, “lives” – of Guy Burgess commands authority from page 1….The pace is brisk; the account of Burgess’s school days is, in its way, as absorbing as the pile-up of events surrounding his defection. The old ways of biography can still be the best.,,,a distinguished biography ."
  • "Is there anything significant left to say about members of the Cambridge spy ring, Moscow Centre’s “magnificent five”? The answer, judging by this book, is a resounding yes…Stalin’s Englishman tells the reader as much about the culture of a British elite in the 1930s, during the war and immediate postwar years, as about spying. .. Lownie has made a convincing case, demonstrating that even now the story of the Cambridge spy ring can continue to shock."
  • "Not every question has been answered, but most have, and those that remain probably never will be."
    Independent on Sunday
  • "In this meticulous biography of the most colourful of the quintet, espionage expert Lownie argues convincingly that Burgess – often seen as a clownish buffoon – was the key member of the ring, and his treachery the most damaging. "
  • "In this scrupulously sane and well-researched – in fact, masterly – biography, Andrew Lownie argues convincingly that Burgess’s reputation as a drunken ninny has caused historians to underestimate his effectiveness as a spy. "
    Mail on Sunday 5*
  • " ...exhaustively researched and absorbing book, the first full biographical study and likely to remain the definitive life. "
    New Statesman
  • "…this magnificent biography…The treacherous, colourful life of Burgess has all the right ingredients for an engrossing story and Lownie, who has spent 30 years researching this biography, makes the most of it. With a narrative as gripping as a thriller the book charts Burgess’s strange journey from his upbringing as the son of a naval officer through his involvement with the notorious spy ring at Cambridge in 1930s, to his exile in the 1950s…Treason, alcoholism and the Cold War are all dark, serious issues yet Lownie has an eye for the humorous and quirky. "
    Daily Express, 5* review
  • "Stalin’s Englishman tells the outrageous story of a master manipulator and trickster, and evaluates his treason with a vigour that makes it one of the biographies of the year."
    Times Book of the Week
  • "this meticulously researched biography…Lownie is broadly persuasive in rescuing Burgess from his previous role as the drunken also-ran in Britain’s spying pantheon….This is a very well- written biography … an astonishing piece of research, "
    Sunday Times
  • "well-researched and comprehensive ."
    Scottish Review of Books
  • "  One of the most important intelligence books in many years."
    EyeSpy Magazine
  • "A fascinating story, racily recounted."
    The Oldie
  • "...this deeply researched new biography…Lownie has unearthed much fascinating material…well worth reading."
    Evening Standard
  • "  Andrew Lownie demonstrates that there is plenty still to be learned about enjoyable and convincing biography...fair-minded and non-judgemental..."
    Literary Review
  • "... exhaustive research, elegant construction, psychological acuity, wit and the necessary sympathy....Lownie shows that Burgess’s treason was far more significant than had been thought."
    Spectator, Books of the Year
  • "a biography that reads as compellingly as a fine novel."
    Church Times
  • "It is to Andrew Lownie’s credit that, in the sad and funny Stalin’s Englishman, he manages to convey the charm as well as the turp­itude ."
    Craig Brown, Guardian Books of the Year
  • "Shrewd, thor­ough, revelatory. "
    William Boyd, Guardian Books of the Year
  • "Awful human beings make for splendid biographies, and the traitor Guy Burgess was a terrible specimen of humanity...This terrible man is brought back to vivid life by this well-researched, finely written book."
    Times Best Biographies of Year 2015
  • ".. a rich combination of spy story, cultural history, social outrage and character portrait. Several recent biographies with an espionage angle have seemed to me despicable in their sensationalism and gullibility but Lownie writes with scepticism, decency and a sharp regard for truth. "
    Richard Davenport-Hines, BBC History ‘Book of the Year’
  • "The first full biography of Burgess is fascinating on both his methods and his motivation – and proves a more compelling page-turner than any spy thriller."
    Mail on Sunday, Biographies of the Year
  • "provocative, well written and intelligently illustrated."
    Edinburgh University Journal
  • "This superb biography captures the ambiguity Burgess always inspires"
    Daily Mail Biographies of the Year
  • "Lownie's research is complete and impeccable. He has unearthed more facts on this case than anyone else writing in the field. Brilliant!"
    Journal of US Intelligence Studies
  • " Lownie’s book successfully rescues Burgess from the image he is sometimes given, as little more than a drunken buffoon…a meticulous account of Burgess’s life and makes a useful contribution to Cold War intelligence history."
    Times Literary Supplement
  • "a comprehensive biography, which convincingly revealed quite how important Burgess was for his KGB handlers."
    Country Life
  • "a vivid insight into the world of Guy Burgess, the famous Soviet spy who defected to Moscow in 1951, in this well written, detailed and engaging biography."
    SCRSS Digest
  • "Lownie shows us skilfully how successful and ruthless Burgess was in his betrayal."
    No 1, Independent’s Top 10 Spy Books
  • "an impeccably researched biography, but also as an in-depth cultural study and a spy thriller of genuine, knuckle-gnawing tension. "
  • "an astonishing, unique story."
    Sarah Bradford, The Tablet
  • "A remarkable and definitive portrait of the truly ghastly spy and traitor Guy Burgess who should surely never have been permitted to do us so much damage. And a portrait of the snobbery and laxity that permitted an Old Etonian who had changed sides to get away with it for so long."
    Frederick Forsyth
  • "  Stalin’s Englishman tells the outrageous story of a master manipulator and trickster, and evaluates his treason with a vigour that made it one of the great biographies of 2015. "
    The Times