CONSPIRATOR by Ray Bearse

CONSPIRATOR

The Untold Story of Tyler Kent

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A workmanlike reprise of a once-celebrated WW II espionage case, plus an assessment of its geopolitical implications. Drawing on recently declassified archival material, memoirs, interviews with surviving principals, and allied sources, Bearse, a journalist, and Read (coauthor of Kristallnacht, The Deadly Embrace, etc.) provide a comprehensive briefing on the strange career of Tyler Gatewood Kent. The son of a globe-trotting consular official, Kent (a Princeton dropout) won a position in America's Moscow embassy on the strength of his linguistic skills. Thoroughly corrupted during his sojourn in the USSR, Kent (who had been denied advancement to Foreign Service officer) was posted to London as a code clerk shortly after the start of WW II. A virulent anti-Semite with patrician pretensions, he had access to the ultrasecret correspondence between Churchill and FDR. He made copies of these messages and other documents available to Anna Wolkoff, a Russian Çmigre with pro-Fascist leanings who passed them on to Nazi Germany through Italian diplomats. Apprehended by MI5 agents in Mary 1940 as Hitler was smashing through France, Kent was stripped of his immunity by the State Department. He stood trial in camera in the Old Bailey and was convicted on six counts of violating the UK's Official Secrets Act. Sentenced to seven years' penal servitude on the Isle of Wight, Kent returned to the States following his 1945 release. Shortly thereafter, he married a wealthy divorcÇe who kept him in affluent comfort until his death in 1988. While Bearse and Read offer an oddly bloodless account of Kent's treachery, they make a fine job of evaluating the potentially disruptive political consequences of his crimes, including potential damage to FDR's bid for a third presidential terms and to Joseph P. Kennedy's diplomatic career. An intriguing footnote to the history of WW II, then, which is longer on global perspectives than human-scale insights. (Sixteen pages of photographs-not seen.)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-385-26261-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991




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