When George Blake died last year in Moscow aged ninety-eight, he left behind a long interview with journalist Simon Kuper about a life that had taken him from boyhood in Rotterdam and Egypt via Cambridge and the Dutch wartime resistance into the heart of the Cold War. Trained as a British spy, he was captured during the Korean War, changed sides, and ended up working for the KGB as a remarkably successful double agent.
Discussing his story and what it tells us about the nature of betrayal, loyalty and political allegiance are Simon Kuper, whose Spies, Lies, and Exile: The Extraordinary Story of Russian Double Agent George Blake will be published in the US by The New Press in May 2021 and Simon Winder, author of The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond.
About the speakers
Simon Kuper was educated at Oxford University and Harvard. He has been working for the Financial Times since 1994, and now writes a general column for the newspaper. He is British but lives with his wife and three children in Paris. He is the author of several books including Football Against the Enemy (winner of the William Hill prize for Sports Book of the Year 1994), Ajax, The Dutch, The War: Football in Europe During the Second World War (2003), and – as co-author with Stefan Szymanski - Soccernomics (2009). He also writes for magazines in Japan, The Netherlands, Switzerland and other countries. He has won several awards for his journalism, ranging from the Manuel Vázquez Montalbán prize for sportswriting in 2008 to the British Society of Magazine Editors’ prize for Columnist of the Year in 2016 and 2020. His book about FC Barcelona, The Barcelona Complex, will be published in August. He is now working on another on the origins of the current British ruling class at 1980s’ Oxford University. His biography of the British KGB double agent, George Blake, is published in the US in May by The New Press as Spies, Lies, and Exile: The Extraordinary Story of Russian Double Agent George Blake.
Simon Winder is publishing director at Penguin Books, the editor of several anthologies and the author of four books, starting with The Man Who Saved England: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2006. His last three books have all explored dimensions of German and central European history, culminating in the 2019 Lotharingia which was a Sunday Times book of the year.