William Collins buys 'thrilling' Cambridge spy tale

William Collins buys 'thrilling' Cambridge spy tale

William Collins will publish the first book by Cambridge espionage historian Svetlana Lokhova revealing the "greatest pre-war triumph of Stalin’s secret services".

Based on considerable new archive research, The Spy Who Changed History explores the “thrilling story of Stalin’s most audacious intelligence operation”, which includes the Soviet penetration of US universities dating back to before the ‘Magnificent Five’ Cambridge spy ring.

Lokhova, an archive by-fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, and has worked closely with intelligence expert Professor Christopher Andrew for many years.

UK and Commonwealth rights to the title were bought by Arabella Pike, publishing director at HarperCollins imprint William Collins, for an undisclosed sum from Jon Elek at United Agents. Lokhova is now represented by Euan Thorneycroft at A M Heath. The book is scheduled for publication in June 2018.

Much has been written about the ‘Magnificent Five’ spies of Cambridge but this book shows for the first time that Soviet penetration of the leading universities began much earlier, according to a William Collins spokesperson, and not in Cambridge, England but in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Spy Who Changed History follows Stanislav Shumovsky, code-named Agent Blériot, who enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in September 1931, “in search of rather more than a good education”.

His decade of work in the US as an aviation spy and the networks he built allowed the Soviet Union to close a 100-year gap in industrial capabilities to transform itself into a military powerhouse able to confront and defeat Nazi Germany. Then in 1947 Shumovsky helped make it possible for the USSR to build and unveil the most advanced strategic bomber in the world.

Based on extensive research in Russian and American archives, the book reveals “the untold story”, exposing how even Franklin D. Roosevelt and Shirley Temple unwittingly advanced Shumovsky’s schemes.

Lokhova said: “I am excited to reveal the greatest pre-war triumph of Stalin’s secret services. The sheer extent of Stan’s espionage in 1930s America provides real insight into how the Soviet Union spied on the West. I hope readers will be as thrilled as I have been by his extraordinary story.”

Pike said: “Svetlana’s book is an important contribution to the history of 20th century espionage but written in a thrilling and accessible narrative style. She brings a fresh and authoritative voice to the literature and it is a page-turning read.”