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
    • Romania: Corint
Andrew Lownie

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...
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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
  • "Stalin's Englishman comes as close to touching the tortured and tempestuous soul of Guy Burgess as anything I have read. It's superbly researched and written with an extraordinary elegance that takes you by the hand and guides you along the pathways of outrageous treachery. Truly exceptional"
    Michael Dobbs, author of House of Cards
  • "Great book, meticulously researched beautifully written. It should be considered the definitive text on Burgess to date."
    Good Reads
  • "extremely well-written…an astonishing piece of research."
    Sunday Times
  • "A superb biography..full of detail…engrossing and exciting. We are transported into the past with real skill…Brilliantly told. "
    Evening Standard
  • "Lownie brilliantly chronicles the life of the man at the centre of the Cambridge spy ring"
  • "  Lownie’s book is as thrilling as any spy novel and hugely entertaining. It is also ultimately a very sad record of a privileged life gone to waste."
    The magazine of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • " Lownie amply demonstrates Burgess' wily intelligence in navigating the spy's life while often living so indiscreetly. A crack biography of a man who was a preposterous enigma."
  • "Stalin’s Englishman is a fine biography about an effective spy and a disgraceful traitor who lived to enjoy Communist reality firsthand.  It fills a major historical gap in espionage history."
    Studies In Intelligence
  • "This well-researched biography follows Burgess from Eton in the 1920s, through Cambridge in the ’30s, on through his careers in the BBC, Foreign Office, and the British Secret Intelligence Service, and, simultaneously, his skillfully managed double life as a Soviet agent. Thoroughly engrossing. "
    Book List
  • "a superb biography, the quality of which is unlikely to be surpassed."
    Intelligence and National Security
  • "makes a good case for demonstrating that previous studies on this topic have only scraped the surface of this iconic network..."
    International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence
  • "a fascinating book, enlivened by many new sources and the results of painstaking interviews. "
    The Historian
  • "A hugely entertaining read about one of the most notorious spies ever. Eric Ambler couldn't have provided a more fascinating story."
    Philip Kerr
  • "a real-life page turner. "
    New York Post
  • "a fine biography, packed with detail… impressive primary and secondary research ."
    Wall Street Journal
  • "I really did not think that a new book could provide any more insight into the well hashed story of the defectors. I am glad to be proven wrong on this. Andrew Lownie’s book is a very eloquent build up of a novel argument: Guy Burgess was not simply the tragicomic clown most people believed him to be. Burgess, as argued by Lownie, was the charismatic central figure who was instrumental in recruiting fellow Soviet agents… I cannot recommend this highly enough to students of Cold War history."
    The Baku Project
  • "readable and thorough… makes good use of newly discovered sources such as declassified government files, as well as his own interviews with Burgess’s surviving acquaintances. "
    RUSI Journal
  • "What makes this biography exemplary is that it is a continuous thread of first-person accounts of Burgess by people who met him and by many people who knew him very well. By the time one finishes reading this biography, one virtually can see him and hear him speaking.  "
    NPA Personality Theory Forum
  • "Stalin's Englishman : Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge spy ring by Andrew Lownie,is very good. "
    American Monarch blogspot
  • "This scholarly tome is rightfully being called “the” definitive biography of Guy Burgess. The author’s research is exhaustive. 60 pages of notes buttress his observations. There is an extensive bibliography, a summary of literature based on Burgess’ story, and a closing chapter, “Summing Up,” that records assessments of Burgess ‘life. It’s fair to say that Mr. Lownie knows Guy Burgess better than anyone. He has given us an excellent resource."
    Historical novels Society
  • "In this excellent biography, Andrew Lownie dispenses with perceptions that Burgess was the weak link in the Five."
    The Liberty Conservative
  • "This magnificent book by Andrew Lownie throws more light on Soviet espionage than dozens of "intelligence historians' books…"
    Ex Libris (Russia)
  • "  Lownie brilliantly succeeds in painting a very complete picture of this British spy. Russophiles, amateur historians, and some Soviet experts will be moved by this book."
    Library Journal
  • "this definitive biography… meticulous research ."
    San Francisco Books & Travel
  • "In this well-researched and even handed biography, Andrew Lownie has successfully demonstrated that Burgess's outward charm and raffish exterior may have even made him a more effective double agent."
    Calcutta Telegraph
  • "Mr. Lownie makes a convincing case that Burgess was the most important of the Cambridge spies. A must-read for intelligence buffs — and especially those charged with protecting our nation’s secrets."
    Washington Times
  • "When reading this book, you’ll be educated, absorbed, bemused, possibly shocked as well. You certainly won’t be bored. It’s a well-rounded account of Burgess and even if you’re already familiar with the Cambridge Five and know a bit about Burgess from other places, I’d still highly recommend it as you’ve now got the comprehensive account of his life in one handy volume. "
    Spies and Shadows
  • "A valuable contribution to the literature…makes a convincing case that Burgess was the most important of the Cambridge spies. A must-read for intelligence buffs - and especially those charged with protecting our nation’s secrets."
  • "  superb biography of the most outrageous, yet arguably the most successful, of the Cambridge spies….Lownie's first-class account…Andrew Lownie, in Stalin's Englishman, has told that extraordinary tale supremely well. "
    Bookbag 5* review
  • "Andrew Lownie’s labour-of-love biography of Guy Burgess (1911–1963) is a cracking read, rich with archival detail and interviews with those who knew Burgess."
    English Historical Review
  • "If you’re a fan of thrilling spy novels, then Stalin’s Englishman is the history book for you… an exciting narrative that will keep you turning the pages."
  • "...superb biography of the most outrageous, yet arguably the most successful, of the Cambridge spies… first-class account…  Andrew Lownie, in Stalin's Englishman, has told that extraordinary tale supremely well. "
  • "presents a major re-evaluation of the role that Burgess played in the Cambridge spy-ring, and promotes him from a minor to a major player. In this comprehensive and compelling study, the full extent of the material that Burgess supplied to the Soviets is revealed, and its scale is quite extraordinary… Lownie's excellent book."
    Irish Independent
  • "shows that he was a much more dangerous and effective spy than has often been thought. "
  • "Lownie has succeeded in bringing to life – and  even arousing our sympathy for – a character who betrayed his country without batting an eyelid or experiencing a single moment of regret. "
    The Jerusalem Post.