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, author of Triplex: Secrets from the Cambridge Spies
...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.
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.
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
Andrew Lownie's brilliant new biography, the first proper biography of Burgess written, strips away the years of grime from this portrait, revealing Burgess as far more interesting -- and far more dangerous -- than we knew...Above all, this is a gripping study of a most unusual personality, written with compassion but without sentimentality. It is detailed, and impeccably sourced, as one would expect from Lownie, who is this country's foremost literary non-fiction agent. Reminiscent of early John le Carré, this is a book to be relished with a glass of whisky at one's side -- or should that be vodka? Highly recommended.
Amazon 5* review
n 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* Book of the Week
exhaustively researched and absorbing book, the first full biographical study and likely to remain the definitive life.
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*
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.
well-researched and comprehensive .
Scottish Review of Books
One of the most important intelligence books in many years.
Eye Spy Magazine
A fascinating story, racily recounted.
this deeply researched new biography…Lownie has unearthed much fascinating material…well worth reading.
Andrew Lownie demonstrates that there is plenty still to be learned about Burgess...an enjoyable and convincing biography...fair-minded and non-judgemental...
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.
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
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
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.
"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."
an astonishing, unique story.
Sarah Bradford, The Tablet
• 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
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
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.
Great book, meticulously researched beautifully written. It should be considered the definitive text on Burgess to date.
a superb biography, the quality of which is unlikely to be surpassed.
Intelligence & National Security
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
A hugely entertaining read about one of the most notorious spies ever. Eric Ambler couldn’t have provided a more fascinating story.
Lownie brilliantly chronicles the life of the man at the centre of the Cambridge spy ring...
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.
An extremely well-written biography…an astonishing piece of research.
A superb biography..full of detail…engrossing and exciting. We are transported into the past with real skill…Brilliantly told.