06 November 2009

Papa Spy

From the Catholic Herald:

The Tablet editor who was a spy of genius

Papa Spy is an exciting story with a strong Catholic angle, enjoyably complex because it is set in the world of wartime espionage. Its subject, Tom Burns, was a publisher in the Thirties who signed up early works by Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, but who made his own mark in the cauldron of Anglo-Spanish relations during the early years of the Franco regime. He later became editor of the Catholic weekly the Tablet until his retirement.

This unofficial biography is by way of a salute by his son Jimmy Burns, a former Financial Times writer, who as a youngster discovered a German pistol and miniature spy camera in his father's London study - a discovery which ignited a fascination with his secretive double life as a diplomat in the operations of both British Catholicism and the British Secret Service in the crenellated buildings and alliances of Madrid during the Second World War.

He shouldered a difficult assignment because Papa, very much a professional operator, left very few clues, taking most of his secrets to the grave. Indeed, the author has had a long five-year trail to follow, interviewing survivors of the period and digging deep into government and university archives in Britain, Spain and America.

The rest is here.

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