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Spies Like Us

November 8, 2012

I stumbled upon this page on the BBC website about the Cambridge spy ring which compiles a wide range of BBC archive material reflecting on the episode over a fifty year period, including Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 statement to parliament when Anthony Blunt’s  extra-curricular spying activities were revealed to the nation.

In an age in which we’re increasingly blasé about political ideology and politicians themselves seem more rooted to pragmatism than big ideas, the reality of five men from the privileged world of Cambridge who felt so strongly about capitalism’s failures that they were compelled to pass on sensitive information to the Soviet Union is difficult for us to understand.

The public face of Britain’s intelligence services has, of course, changed significantly since the end of the Cold War.  Recruitment policies are more robust and you can easily find vacancies on the MI5 and MI6 websites if you’re interested, although salaries won’t support the James Bond-like lifestyle you’ve always wanted and unlike Bond you won’t be able to announce your job description at cocktail parties.  (For all his troubles, Kim Philby, one of the Cambridge spy ring, was rewarded with his own stamp from the Soviet Union, though only posthumously after ending his days drinking heavily and depressed in the Motherland following his defection in 1963.) But if you’re interested in working for MI6 then take this test first, apparently it gives you “a taste of the challenges that you might, one day, possibly face”.  Even the description of the game is suitably vague and non-committal.

If you’re in Washington DC anytime soon then why not try the International Spy Museum where for the price of admission you can discover that ‘all is not what it seems’.  For those not going to DC anytime soon then I’m sure you’ll appreciate this article on the Spy Museum’s top ten sexiest spies in the world ever and while I don’t want to court controversy, I really do question Vladimir Putin’s inclusion.

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