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Do you have what it takes
to be a spy?

David Bradley interviews ex-Financial Times security, intelligence and defence correspondent Jimmy Burns, OBE, about what it takes to be a spy - and whether or not Revellers have the required rare combination of characteristics.
Jimmy will draw comparisons with would be Reveller Walter Bell, about whom he has completed a groundbreaking book, a Faithful Spy.

Monday 22nd April 2024

The Bridge Room (upstairs), The Prince Albert, 85 Albert Bridge Road, London SW11

Arrive 7pm - Drinks at the bar

Talk starts 7.30pm

Optional dinner 8.30pm

£34 each.

So who'd make the perfect spy?

A Faithful Spy Draft Cover.png

To find out, attend Jimmy Burns's talk about his latest book, A Faithful Spy, on 22nd April. 

 A Faithful Spy was an FT Readers' Choice at the end of  2023.

Jimmy will tell the intriguing story of Walter Bell. As a young secret intelligence officer posted to New York in the 1930s, Walter was "a vital cog in the machine" of British Intelligence. With his charm, trustworthiness and persuasive powers (all Reveller qualities) Bell helped pave the way for the US to enter WWII, set up the OSS (CIA precursor).

Post-war, by forging strong bonds of trust with Nehru and Kenyatta just when colonial authorities considered them terrorists, India and Kenya were firmly with the West during the Cold War. 

Some of what you'll discover...

  • Why Jimmy Burns wrote A Faithful Spy, the story behind his friendship with Walter Bell.

  • What exactly are the requisite qualities, character traits and personality of the perfect spy? Do Revellers have them? (Why have these not changed since the days of Queen Elizabeth I's Sir Francis Walsingham, who used spies to help root out Catholic plotters?)​​

  • Which countries produce the best spies and why.

  • How Jimmy came across Walter's private papers, correspondence and diaries. 

  • Why ex-MI6 Chief Richard Dearlove praised A Faithful Spy for its unique insights into his profession. Yet he acknowledged that such a cache of personal papers should never have slipped unvetted through British Intelligence's net.

  • Camel's Back Syndrome - what it is and how it affects spies who witness so much yet can share so little. ​​

  • How Bell played a vital role in getting Kenyatta and Nehru, considered terrorists by the colonial authorities, to ask M15 for help with internal security post-independence. 

  • How British Intelligence frightened US opinion into supporting fighting the Nazis by placing into a crashed car falsified documents about Mexico gaining Texas and California if Germany won WWII.

  • How espionage has changed in the last ten years, with the onset of the Internet, mass surveillance and cyber warfare? 

What some are saying...

“An important book which uniquely describes the many faceted career of an important cog in the UK’s intelligence and security machinery through key events of the 20th Century.”

Sir Richard Dearlove, Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) 1999-2004

A rare look behind the scenes of British intelligence… This story is not only well told, but it is also true.
Nicholas Reynolds, former CIA officer and NYT best-selling author.

“An outstanding book”

Dr Peter Martland , Cambridge University

About Jimmy Burns

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Jimmy Burns OBE is an author and historian and was an award-winning Financial Times foreign correspondent specialising in security, intelligence and defence.  

He started his career during the Cold War, where he dealt with Russian journalists, many of whom were KGB agents. In the run-up to the Falklands War, The FT posted him to Argentina, where he became the first correspondent to cover it. Despite being arrested and imprisoned by the Argentines on suspicion of spying, they soon realised that he was only a journalist and released him. His career also saw him reporting from Northern Ireland during the Troubles and the Iraq invasion. Jimmy was part of an FT team that won the NetMedia European Online Journalism Award for its groundbreaking
 report on weapons of mass destruction.

Jimmy Burns' literary works span various topics, including Spain and Football. His notable books include 'Maradona the Hand of God', a captivating exploration of the legendary footballer, and 'Papa Spy', a revealing account of his father's covert activities during the Spanish Civil War. 

Monday 22nd April 2024

The Bridge Room (upstairs), The Prince Albert, 85 Albert Bridge Road, London SW11

Arrive 7pm - Drinks at the bar

Talk starts 7.30pm

Optional dinner 8.30pm

£34 EAch.


The Bridge Room (upstairs), The Prince Albert, 85 Albert Bridge Road, London SW11 4PF

From Chelsea, cross Abert Bridge, and the Prince Albert is on the right opposite the North West entrance to Battersea Park.

If, for whatever reason, we must cancel the talk or you (with at least five days' notice) can't make it, you will receive a complimentary ticket to another Revellers' Club talk. If there isn't a talk that you wish or can attend, you'll receive a refund.

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