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Deceiving the Deceivers

Deceiving the Deceivers: Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess

Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Deceiving the Deceivers
    Book Description:

    Among the more sensational espionage cases of the Cold War were those of Moscow's three British spies-Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess. In this riveting book, S. J. Hamrick draws on documentary evidence concealed for almost half a century in reconstructing the complex series of 1947-1951 events that led British intelligence to identify all three as Soviet agents.

    Basing his argument primarily on the Venona archive of broken Soviet codes released in 1995-1996 as well as on complementary Moscow and London sources, Hamrick refutes the myth of MI5's identification of Maclean as a Soviet agent in the spring of 1951. British intelligence knew far earlier that Maclean was Moscow's agent and concealed that knowledge in a 1949-1951 counterespionage operation that deceived Philby and Burgess. Hamrick also introduces compelling evidence of a 1949-1950 British disinformation initiative using Philby to mislead Moscow on Anglo-American retaliatory military capability in the event of Soviet aggression in Western Europe.

    Engagingly written and impressively documented,Deceiving the Deceiversbreaks new ground in reinterpreting the final espionage years of three infamous spies and in clarifying fifty years of conjecture, confusion, and error in Anglo-American intelligence history.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13061-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    S. J. Hamrick
    (pp. xv-xx)
  5. Chapter ONE
    (pp. 1-18)

    It was almost midnight as the pale Austin A-40 sedan careened out of the darkness into the thin gray twilight of the quay at Southampton. Abandoning the rented car, two men lept from the front seat, seized their luggage, and dashed for the 11:45 ferry bound for the French coast. The first was blond and slender, over six feet three, and a head taller than his stocky, dark-haired companion. As they jogged up the gangway, the ferry screws were already churning, adding their sea broth to the unmistakable smells of dockside and departure any place on earth: tar, brine, rotting...

  6. Chapter TWO
    (pp. 19-33)

    The Philby secrets were those most dangerously at risk by the full disclosure of the 1944–1951 Venona archive. From October 1949 until June 1951 Philby had been MI6 chief of station in Washington. Clever, charming, modestly unassuming, and a bit rumpled at times, he had easily found his place as a welcome confidant and drinking companion among his many American friends at the CIA and the FBI, would enjoy their trust and share their secrets. As MI6 chief, he was responsible for liaison with the fledgling CIA still in transition and to a lesser extent the FBI. He had...

  7. Chapter THREE
    (pp. 34-61)

    The problems confronting London after Washington’s decision to release the Venona archive are difficult to identify without some understanding of Anglo-American cooperation in attacking Soviet cable traffic. On February 1, 1943, U.S. military intelligence’s Special Branch (cryptography) began to study its repository of encrypted Soviet cables at the Signal Security Agency’s Arlington Hall headquarters on the instructions of Colonel Carter Clarke, chief of Special Branch. The cables had been gathered during the war years when U.S. censorship laws required that all international telegraphic traffic entering or leaving the United States was subject to military inspection. Three commercial carriers, Western Union,...

  8. Chapter FOUR
    (pp. 62-84)

    In the aftermath ofWorldWar II and during the decades that followed, one of the undisclosed secrets of that war was the success of tactical and strategic deception. Military deception was as old as warfare itself, but it is doubtful whether any military command ever employed deception as a fundamental tool of strategic planning as completely and rigorously as did the British during World War II. They also showed a remarkable talent for cunning, imagination, and daring. During the first years of the war when Britain was faced with a superior enemy across the English Channel, deception was primarily a defensive...

  9. Chapter FIVE
    (pp. 85-96)

    Soviet cables under attack by American and British analysts during the Venona operation gave up their secrets very slowly. Sometimes they yielded a few fragments in a few months, sometimes never at all. A partially comprehensible text might take a year or even longer to recover. In the long process of recovery, an encrypted Russian cable would pass through a number of evolutionary stages before it might yield enough weight, substance, and heft for counterintelligence officers to begin trolling for the source. More often the recovery work was abandoned without conclusive results. The mindnumbing work was helped immeasurably if the...

  10. Chapter SIX
    (pp. 97-112)

    In August 1950, almost a year after Philby’s arrival in Washington and seventeen months after London had learned of the Russian agent at the British embassy, the MI5 investigation remained inconclusive, or so it is commonly believed. The identification of the embassy spy was extraordinarily slow in coming. GCHQ and the Eastcote Venona operation had taken control of Arlington Hall intercepts identified as relevant to the case, and Dick White restricted disclosure. According to the Foreign Office’s Sir Patrick Reilly in a letter written in 1986, at the time some thirty-five names were included on MI5’s list of suspects. Donald...

  11. Chapter SEVEN
    (pp. 113-134)

    The Maclean case baffled the Foreign Office and the three officials who had unwittingly helped Dick White carry out the MI5 counterespionage deception. Over time, a few added scraps from their own memories of those final months in 1950–1951, as did Patrick Reilly. So did Sir Roger Makins but his November 1985 explanations of Maclean’s November 1950 recall were ignored. Not widely known, they were given to a British historian, Anthony Glees, unfairly dismissed by one Maclean chronicler, Robert Cecil, as an “illinformed academic writer.” Cecil had read Glees’s account and was near completion of his own very useful...

  12. Chapter EIGHT
    (pp. 135-158)

    Guy Burgess’s May 25, 1951, flight from Southampton had abandoned Philby to suspicions that he too was a Soviet agent. Dick White was also faced with a dilemma. Since at least the summer of 1950 he had misled the Foreign Office, the FBI, and Philby about MI5’s awareness of Maclean’s guilt. He knew far more about Philby than he had ever admitted and used that knowledge to deceive Philby through his MI6 cipher with the reports he sent to Hoover on the HOMER investigation. He had provoked Philby to send Burgess to London to warn Maclean and mobilized the two-man...

  13. Chapter NINE
    (pp. 159-184)

    By the 1970s and 1980s Philby had gained enough notoriety to emerge from the intelligence shadows and be embraced by popular culture. In the United States his renown is based on his well-publicized 1949– 1951 penetration of the CIA, a penetration that spoke for itself. The consequences must have been calamitous for Washington’s reclusive intelligence giant, or so it was assumed. InMy Silent War, Philby mentioned a few of his espionage triumphs but official secrecy obscured the details of those episodes until years later. His other betrayals were left to imaginations richly stimulated by the events of the 1960s,...

  14. Chapter TEN
    (pp. 185-203)

    In October 1949, when Philby arrived at the British embassy, the CIA was scattered about in some twenty-eight buildings in Washington. The largest group of offices was located at 2430 E Street in four yellow brick buildings on Navy Hill, as it is now called as a State Department annex, overlooking the Lincoln Memorial and the Potomac River. Four temporary buildings stood nearby. Somewhat secluded by Washington street-front or walk-in standards, the gated and fenced compound was occupied by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the war. Isolated from the main complex, down the hill and across Independence Avenue...

  15. Chapter ELEVEN
    (pp. 204-227)

    Stalin’s attitude toward American nuclear capability and its effects on his political and military decisions from 1945 through 1951 is a complex subject that defies categorical assumptions. Interpretations are best left to Russian scholars who are still considering the subject. It also goes beyond our purpose except in a general sense. In his memoirs Khrushchev recalled that Stalin was terrified to the point of cowardice by the American atomic bomb, but his claim should be interpreted as part of his continuing efforts to debunk the Stalin myth. Between 1945 and his death in 1953, he gave only two speeches and...

  16. Chapter TWELVE
    (pp. 228-232)

    Washington’s decision to declassify Venona attracted widespread publicity when announced on July 11, 1995, at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The ceremonial opening promised even more to the assembled journalists, scholars, intelligence officers, and other prominent guests in disclosing the secrets of the most celebrated American espionage cases of the 1940s, some hidden for almost fifty years. In the First Release, issued that day, little was found to contradict the traditional version of the Maclean affair. Newspapers repeated the same shopworn anecdotes and the same tired recollections that had been repeated endlessly over the years regarding Venona and the three...

  17. Appendix A: The Maclean Cables—Third NSA Venona Release, February 27, 1996
    (pp. 233-238)
  18. Appendix B: Modin’s Mistaken Memoirs
    (pp. 239-244)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 245-286)
  20. Index
    (pp. 287-297)