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Looking for Mr. Nobody: The Secret Life of Goronwy Rees
by Jenny Rees
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765806886, Paperback)
Goronwy Rees (1909-1979) was one of the most gifted and promising figures in the constellation of British poets, journalists, and intellectuals of the 1930s that included Louis MacNeice, W. H., Auden, C. Day Lewis, Isaiah Berlin, and Anthony Blunt. Like many liberals of his generation, he was shocked by the effects of the Depression and correspondingly sympathetic to the Communist regime in Russia. Guy Burgess, of the Cambridge spies--Burgess, Maclean, Philby, and Blunt, admitted his espionage to Rees. His association with Burgess was to blight the rest of Rees's life. When Burgess defected in 1951, and Rees denounced him to MI5, Rees was viewed more as a spy out to save his own skin than as an honorable citizen. His anonymous, sensationalist articles in The People, denouncing Burgess's political activities and all but naming names, condemned him with the British intellectual community--not for his politics but for his betrayal of a friend. Colleagues and acquaintances accused him of trying to initiate a McCarthyite witch-hunt. He lost his job. His academic career was ruined. In Looking for Mr. Nobody, Jenny Rees deals with many of the old charges made against her father in her search for the answer to her own question, "Was he, too, a spy?" Had he joined up with Burgess and Blunt and passed secrets to the Soviet Union? Her quest for the truth reveals a fascinating portrait of a brilliant but flawed man of letters, handsome and seductively charming, caught up in the radical, political commitments of the 1930s, Communist Party membership, and his tortured relationship with the notorious Cambridge spies. In a straightforward unsentimental manner, the author reviews the main aspects of Rees's career, professional affiliations, his conflict with academic enemies, and his anti-Communist writings for Encounter after the war. While Fleet Street continued to denounce Rees as a suspected Soviet agent, his daughter went to the only place that could give his ghost rest, to the files of the KGB in Moscow. There she found proof that, as his friends had always believed, he had never been recruited by the KGB, and whatever intelligence links he may have had with Burgess were severed in 1939. Jenny Rees's book reads like a parable of the Cold War. It provides additional insight into the troubled decade of the 1930s and will be of interest to students of politics and the Cold War, social history, and the general reader concerned with moral and intellectual dilemmas of modern times. The introductory essay by Diana Trilling places this riveting story in the context of place and time. Jenny Rees, Goronwy Rees's eldest child, has been a newspaper journalist for most of her working life. She has been a reporter and feature writer for the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and the Daily Telegraph.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:50 -0400)
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