Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 37: The Cambridge Five–King, Country, Class and Club

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

— Brought to you by —

Adam Smith, Nick Mason, Hans Lander, Hank Oslo, and retired social critic Ryan Landry.


The British have a long history of being a key player in the European chess tournament, but never truly controlled the board until the defeat of Napoleon and the consolidation of British colonial territories during the 19th century. By the 20th century, however, the rise of Germany’s manufacturing prowess and its political unification under Bismarck created a real challenge to Britain’s mercantilist imperialist system, partly leading to the Great War and the beginning of England losing her colonial possessions. By the time of Great Depression and WWII, serious doubts had crept into the minds of English people about the fate of their empire, and no less in the circles of the elite, making for fertile recruiting grounds for rising powers such as the Soviet Union which had imperial ambitions of its own. From this milieu sprang the Cambridge 5, a group of elite British young men who after being recruited by the Soviets to work as antifascists and agents for the USSR, came to reveal highly sensitive secrets to Moscow with varying degrees of enthusiasm during the Cold War, and up until their discovery and defection in the 1960s represented Britain’s worst intelligence breach to date.

[Note: this is last in our 3 part series on Communist Infiltration, preceded by Communists in US Government and Hollywood Communists.]


1930s – The Cambridge Five are recruited to spy against the United Kingdom for the USSR.
1933 – USSR is officially recognized by the United States. Anthony Blunt visits the Soviet Union.
1934 – Kim Philby is introduced to Arnold Deutsch, his Soviet handler, by well-known Communist provocateur Edith Tudor-Hart.
1939 – Guy Burgess joins MI-6 and begins working as an operative in propaganda, counterintelligence, and subversion.
1941 – The Lend-Lease Act is passed and implemented, ensuring American aid for the Soviet Union in its war against The Third Reich.
1943 – Project Venona is created by the US Army Signal Intelligence Service, examining encrypted Soviet communiques.
1945 – Philby has Konstantin Volkov, and the entire Volkov family, assassinated by KBG operatives to prevent his identity from being made publicly aware to the West.
1951 – Maclean and Burgess flee the West for the Soviet Union as it became clear that Western intelligence services were narrowing in on Maclean’s activities.
1961 – Soviet KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn provides information to British intelligence services implicating Philby, Maclean, Burgess and ‘two others’ in spying for the Soviet Union.
1963 – Kim Philby realizes that his cover has been blown and British intelligence services are aware of his activities. He absconds to Moscow and eventually dies there in 1988.
1964 – Blunt confesses to British intelligence services his spying activities for an immunity plea.
1967 – John Cairncross confesses to British intelligence services his spying activities.
1979 – Anthony Blunt is publicly named as a member of the Cambridge Five by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
1981 – John Cairncross is publicly outed as a former Soviet spy, although faces no prosecution.
1988 – Philby dies and is buried with military honors in Moscow.


– Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development (Vol. I – III), Sutton (1971)
– Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, John Irvin [based on the novel by John le Carré] (1979) –
– Yuri Bezmenov: Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society (1983) –
– The Best Enemy Money Can Buy, Sutton (1986)
– KGB: The Inside Story, Andrew & Gordievsky (1990)
– The Cambridge Spies: The Untold Story of Maclean, Philby, and Burgess in America, Newton (1991)
– Double Lives: Spies and Writers in the Secret Soviet War of Ideas Against the West, Koch (1993)
– Secrets of War, Espionage: The Cambridge Five, Mill Creek Entertainment (1998) –
– The Century of the Self, Curtis (2002) –
– Cambridge Spies, Fywell (2003) –
– Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Rodney Carlisle (2004)
– The Lives of the Cambridge Spies and the Project Known as Venona, Kyle Cai (2004) –
– We came close to losing our democracy in 1979, Eden (2009) –
– How Kim Philby infiltrated MI6, with a lot of help from his friend, Norton-Taylor (2012) –
– A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, Macintyre (2014)
– Philby and the Betrayal of the West, Hackard (2015) –
– Hidden History: Treasonous Fathers + Sons, Landry (2016) –
– Kim Philby, British double agent, reveals all, Corera (2016) –
– WWII Spies: The Soviet Cambridge Network, Kross (2016) –
– How Hillary Clinton Learned To Love The Muslim Brotherhood, Landry (2016) –
– Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 24: Lithuania, Crossroads Of The Baltic (2017) –
– Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 28: Nice Try, FBI – Hoover’s Legacy And The War On Crime (2017) –
– Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 29: Communist Subversion of America – Eastern Promises, Western Capital (2017) –
– Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 33: Red Hollywood, Enemies Foreign And Domestic (2017) –
– Amerasia Case –
– Galbraith, Library of Economics & Liberty –
– The Diaries of Major George Racey Jordan –
– Mitrokhin Archive, Mitrokhin –

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  1. Fascinating topic. But what is up with Landry’s audio? I was excited to hear this episode, but could only make out about 70% of what Ryan had to say.

    I’m particularly interested in what he had to say about Muslim Brotherhood members on the NSC.

  2. As usual excellent episode. But please check the audio the next time.

    1. Landry has gone deep undercover and as a true spy now doubles as a “dude at Starbucks.” He sends his regards though from the front lines.

      1. I gotta admit: that’s a pretty funny reply.

  3. Inside the KGB was an excellent book, I believe I bought from the Readers Digest in the early 1980s. You may wish to check out a book from the same period, titled Utopia in Power, by two Soviet defectors.

  4. I smiled to hear Mr Smith deride art historians only to anticipate watching the BBC’s 1969 series, Civilization.

    This series’ presenter and author is Kenneth Clark, who embodies the academic culture to which you refer in this episode.

    And, yes, Sir Kenneth fits Mr. Smith’s description for the job.

    Thanks for another good episode. I’ve learned much.

  5. ‘Art history? What the fuck is that?’ – this attitude is why the left is winning. They understand the value of culture.

    Engineers never rule society. They make a living realizing other people’s designs. Same with doctors, accountants, computer scientists – good salaries to provide for a family on, but no power or influence outside their respective spheres. They’re glorified artisans, implementing the whims of the rulers.

    The people who control media, education, and culture rule society. The people who determine what is meaningful, and beautiful, and good, and true, and even ‘cool’ rule. ‘What the fuck is art history?’ is a sentiment utterly lacking in nobility, let alone strategic sense. It’s the resentful grumbling of an uncultured craftsman – that’s how the ruling class left sees it at any rate. That’s definitely how the left sees it.

    The right will only win by seizing the organs of culture. Discouraging reactionaries from studying art history is singularly unhelpful.

    Great discussion though, and great series.

  6. Disappointing that an episode with such poor audio quality was released. Landry is unintelligible the majority of the time. Sad because he’s a great commentator and it’s a fascinating topic.

    Did anyone review the episode before release? Figured social matter had better quality control.

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