Book review: The Forgotten Spy

HISTORY is littered with stories of famous spies — from Mata Hari to Philby, Maclean, Burgess and Blunt. 

Nick Barratt

Blink Publishing, €28.50

But few people have heard of the treachery practised by Englishman Ernest Holloway Oldham.

Before the Cambridge Five, as they were known (if you include Cairncross), rocked the British establishment, a deception just as damaging had come to light.

In the 1930s Oldham was the first of Stalin’s British moles, selling secrets to the Russians to feed a lavish lifestyle and a disastrous drinking habit.

The temerity of Oldham’s actions and the abject incompetence of the Foreign Office and the security services is laid bare here.

Genealogist Nick Barratt has made his name unearthing the family trees of numerous people, but for him, telling the tale of Oldham’s treachery was a very personal project.

His painstaking research has resulted in a fascinating read as he tells the story of his great uncle.

Barratt has spared none of the details, regardless of how painful they may be.


Lifestyle

Four graduates tell Siobhan Howe how their fine art degree has influenced their approach to their working life.What use is a degree in fine art? Four graduates answer the question

Terry Gilliam tells Esther McCarthy about the mystery woman who helped him to finally get his Don Quixote film made after 30 yearsTerry Gilliam: Back in the saddle again

Twitch will no longer be the home of esports for Call of Duty, Overwatch and Hearthstone, with those games (and more) going to YouTube instead.Violence in the stream: Big changes for esports

That may say more about how the media treats flaws and beauty than it says about Alicia Keys herself, but nevertheless, it was refreshing at the time to see someone say no to the Hollywood expectations of beauty.The Skin Nerd: Unlocking Alicia Keys’ secrets to gorgeous skin

More From The Irish Examiner