Espionage and the Comintern

Book announcement: Frank Cass

A new book on Comintern
Espionage and the Roots of the Cold War
By David McKnight, Frank Cass & Co, London 2002

I am writing to alert you to my new book which I thought might interest you. The book uses little known archives from Comintern to give a scholarly explanation of the circumstances which lead to Cold War ‘witch hunts’ and accusations of treachery. In their opposition to these allegations, the Left and their liberal allies scorned the possibility that there could be any truth to the charges of espionage.

But the book argues that from the 1930s to the 1950s a significant number of men and women in the United States, Britain, Europe, Australia and Canada were recruited to the Soviet intelligence services. Fired by idealism, they believed that the Soviet Union was the prototype of a new society that would lead to human liberation. They believed that conveying confidential material from their own governments to the Soviet Union was part of a revolutionary struggle against capitalism and imperialism. While the best known names are those of Philby, Burgess and Maclean, there were hundreds of others. Most regarded their work as ‘politics’ and not espionage.

The bulk of the book examines the tradition of underground political work in Comintern which was a highly secret part of the communist movement between 1917 until the late 60s. Originally it was referred to by its Russian name of konspiratsya. In this way, this book also examines the social and political origins of the ‘tradecraft’ of espionage since konspiratsya was a highly successful method of operating.

Buying the book: The cheapest way to buy the book in on-line. Go to and then click 'search', then enter the author name 'mcknight' (or search ‘What’s New’ in the ‘Studies In Intelligence’ Series). The paperback costs 17 English pounds.

Dr David McKnight is a member of the Advisory Board for the Oxford Companion to Espionage. He teaches at the Humanities Faculty at the University of Technology, Sydney in Australia. He has researched and written about politics and espionage for the last 15 years. His previous book, Australia’s Spies and their Secrets, won the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction.