The most recommended books about Guy Burgess

Who picked these books? Meet our 2 experts.

2 authors created a book list connected to Guy Burgess, and here are their favorite Guy Burgess books.
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Book cover of The Climate of Treason: Five who Spied for Russia

Andrew Lownie Author Of Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring

From my list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring).

Who am I?

Andrew Lownie is a former journalist for The London Times, the British representative for the Washington-based National Intelligence Centre, and he helped set up the Spy Museum in Washington. His books include biographies of the writer John Buchan, the spy Guy Burgess (which won the St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book Prize), Dickie & Edwina Mountbatten (a top ten Sunday Times bestseller) and a forthcoming book on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Andrew's book list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring)

Andrew Lownie Why did Andrew love this book?

A landmark espionage book about the Cambridge Spies, which has stood up surprisingly well though published almost forty years ago and before the release of Russian and British archives, and first  made me  interested in ‘The Climate of Treason’.  It not only gives the historical background to their recruitment during the 1930s but, drawing on a deathbed confession from Goronwy Rees, named two new spies ‘Maurice’ and ‘Basil’. After leaks to the satirical magazine Private Eye , Margaret Thatcher confirmed that ‘Maurice’ was the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures  Sir Anthony Blunt who had been granted immunity sixteen years earlier. ‘Basil’ was identified as an atomic scientist, serving in the Washington Embassy alongside Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, called Wilfrid Mann. Mann fended off the accusations at the time and the story died but subsequent research for my book has proved Mann was a spy.

By Andrew Boyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Climate of Treason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Kim Philby: A story of friendship and betrayal

Andrew Lownie Author Of Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring

From my list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring).

Who am I?

Andrew Lownie is a former journalist for The London Times, the British representative for the Washington-based National Intelligence Centre, and he helped set up the Spy Museum in Washington. His books include biographies of the writer John Buchan, the spy Guy Burgess (which won the St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book Prize), Dickie & Edwina Mountbatten (a top ten Sunday Times bestseller) and a forthcoming book on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Andrew's book list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring)

Andrew Lownie Why did Andrew love this book?

Kim Philby’s most personal betrayal was not of Nicholas Elliott, as suggested in Ben McIntyre’s A Spy Among Friends , but his school friend and another MI6 colleague Tim Milne , the nephew of Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne, whom he falsely accused of being a spy in order to deflect attention from himself. Milne’s memoirs were finally permitted to be published four years after his death and provide a fascinating and fresh glimpse into both Philby and Burgess especially Milne’s teenage European travels with Philby and his August 1948 visit to Philby in Turkey where he remembered fellow guest Burgess ‘lolling in a window seat, dirty, unshaven, wearing nothing but an inadequately fastened dressing-gown”, singing on jeep rides into the countryside and  diving into the Bosphorus from a second floor balcony.

By Tim Milne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kim Philby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Foreword by Phillip Knightley Kim Philby, the so-called Third Man in the Cambridge spy ring, was the Cold War's most infamous traitor. A Soviet spy at the heart of British intelligence, at one point heading up the section tasked with rooting out Russian spies within MI6, he betrayed hundreds of British and US agents to the Russians and compromised numerous operations inside the Soviet Union. Ian Innes 'Tim' Milne was Phiby's closest and oldest friend. They studied at Westminster School together and when Philby joined MI6 he immediately recruited Milne as his deputy. Philby's treachery was a huge blow to…


Book cover of The Missing Diplomats

Andrew Lownie Author Of Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring

From my list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring).

Who am I?

Andrew Lownie is a former journalist for The London Times, the British representative for the Washington-based National Intelligence Centre, and he helped set up the Spy Museum in Washington. His books include biographies of the writer John Buchan, the spy Guy Burgess (which won the St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book Prize), Dickie & Edwina Mountbatten (a top ten Sunday Times bestseller) and a forthcoming book on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Andrew's book list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring)

Andrew Lownie Why did Andrew love this book?

The first account of the Burgess and Maclean story – it was published a year after their flight – this fifty page essay, based on a collection of articles in the Sunday Times, by someone who knew both men contains shrewd pen portraits of the two spies and the roots of their spying. “Politics begin in the nursery; no one is born patriotic or unpatriotic, right-wing or left-wing, and it is the child whose craving for love is unsatisfied, whose desire for power is thwarted or whose innate sense of justice is warped that eventually may try to become a revolutionary or dictator.

By Cyril Connolly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Missing Diplomats as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of A Chapter of Accidents

Andrew Lownie Author Of Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring

From my list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring).

Who am I?

Andrew Lownie is a former journalist for The London Times, the British representative for the Washington-based National Intelligence Centre, and he helped set up the Spy Museum in Washington. His books include biographies of the writer John Buchan, the spy Guy Burgess (which won the St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book Prize), Dickie & Edwina Mountbatten (a top ten Sunday Times bestseller) and a forthcoming book on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Andrew's book list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring)

Andrew Lownie Why did Andrew love this book?

The writer and academic, Goronwy Rees, was one of Burgess’s closest friends and this volume of memoir best conveys Burgess’s character and charm. The two men saw much of each other during the 1930s, and Rees was one of Burgess’s first recruits, but the relationship foundered when Rees decided during the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939 to stop spying and threatened to betray his friend. After Burgess surfaced in Moscow, Rees penned a series of sensational articles about Burgess’s dissolute private life, probably as a damage limitation exercise, which backfired and led him to losing his academic post but he soon was to have his revenge.

Book cover of Guy Burgess: A Portrait With Background

Andrew Lownie Author Of Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring

From my list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring).

Who am I?

Andrew Lownie is a former journalist for The London Times, the British representative for the Washington-based National Intelligence Centre, and he helped set up the Spy Museum in Washington. His books include biographies of the writer John Buchan, the spy Guy Burgess (which won the St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book Prize), Dickie & Edwina Mountbatten (a top ten Sunday Times bestseller) and a forthcoming book on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Andrew's book list on Guy Burgess (Cambridge Spy Ring)

Andrew Lownie Why did Andrew love this book?

The journalist  and Labour politician Tom Driberg had known Guy Burgess in London. After Burgess appeared publicly at a press conference in February 1956 five years after his flight to Russia, Driberg approached him asking to write his authorised life and Burgess agreed. In the absence of a memoir, this biography, based on a series of interviews, is our nearest insight into the spy’s mind set tracing his alienation from the Establishment from his school days at Eton, his politicisation at Cambridge University, concerns about McCarthyism whilst in Washington to the escape to Russia.

By Tom Driberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Guy Burgess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring

Helen Fry Author Of The Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of World War II

From my list on deception in WW2.

Who am I?

Helen is an ambassador for the Museum of Military Intelligence, a trustee of the Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum, and a trustee of the Medmenham Collection. Her latest book Spymaster: The Man Who Saved MI6 about one of the greatest spies of the 20th century, was a Daily Mail best biography for 2021. Her history of MI9—the first such history for over 40 years—was shortlisted for The Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History. 

Helen's book list on deception in WW2

Helen Fry Why did Helen love this book?

This biography of Guy Burgess has been selected because of the sheer impressive material which Lownie brings together as a result of 20 years of research. He has provided an illuminated and extensively researched biography that does not shy from laying out the full extent of Burgess’s deception and hedonistic behaviour, as well as the real risks he posed to Western intelligence services and State Secrets. The publicly educated and privileged Cambridge Five, who betrayed their country for ideological motives, arrogantly believed that they had the right to pass Western secrets to Russia. In spite of the brutality of the Stalinist regime, they believed in the communist cause and deceived everyone around them in Britain—their work colleagues, families, and friends. That deception ran dangerously into the Cold War and led finally to the defection of Burgess and his friend Donald Maclean to Moscow in 1951. Their defection caused huge ramifications…

By Andrew Lownie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stalin's Englishman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the St Ermin's Intelligence Book of the Year Award.

'One of the great biographies of 2015.' The Times

Fully updated edition including recently released information.

A Guardian Book of the Year. The Times Best Biography of the Year. Mail on Sunday Biography of the Year. Daily Mail Biography of Year. Spectator Book of the Year. BBC History Book of the Year.

'A remarkable and definitive portrait ' Frederick Forsyth

'Andrew Lownie's biography of Guy Burgess, Stalin's Englishman ... shrewd, thorough, revelatory.' William Boyd

'In the sad and funny Stalin's Englishman, [Lownie] manages to convey the charm as well…