There is no reason why you should have heard of Geoffrey Pyke. After his suicide in 1948 he was described as one of the great geniuses of his time, to rank alongside Einstein, yet he remains today, as The Times put it, 'one of the most original if unrecognised figures' of the twentieth century. Inventor, escapee, campaigner, war correspondent, Pyke was an unlikely hero of both world wars and is seen today as the father of the U.S. Special Forces. He changed the landscape of British pre-school education, earned a fortune on the stock market, wrote a bestseller and in 1942 convinced Churchill and Lord Mountbatten to build an aircraft carrier out of reinforced ice. He gave birth to the Mass Observation movement, escaped from a German concentration camp, devised an ingenious plan to get ambulances and microscopes to the Spanish Republicans for free and launched a private attempt to avert the outbreak of the Second World War by sending into Nazi Germany a group of pollsters disguised as golfers. But there was another side to this man. Pyke, it seems, was a man with a secret. In 2009 MI5 released a mass of material suggesting that Pyke was in fact a senior official in the Soviet Comintern. In 1951 papers relating to Pyke were found in the flat of 'Cambridge Spy' Guy Burgess after his defection to Moscow. MI5 had 'watchers' follow Pyke through the bombed-out streets of London, his letters were opened and listening devices picked up clues to his real identity. Convinced he was a Soviet agent codenamed 'Professor P', MI5 helped to bring his career to an end. It is only now, more than sixty years after his death, that Geoffrey Pyke's astonishing story can be told in full. Churchill's Iceman is a many-faceted account of this enigmatic man's genius, and reveals him as one of the great innovators of the last century.
'The papers that MI5 released in 2009 have led to the discovery of a wonderful new subject for modern biography. Geoffrey Pyke was a tragic and lonely genius who attempted to plant new ideas into the unresponsive soil of Britain during the first half of the twentieth century. His final wish to be forgotten as if I had never lived has now been dramatically eclipsed by this amazing story of mystery and adventure. It is as if he had been invented by G. K. Chesterton and given posthumous fame by John le Carre - which underlines the extraordinary accomplishment of his actual biographer Henry Hemming'. -- Michael Holroyd
Publication date: 14/08/2014
Publisher: Preface Publishing an imprint of Cornerstone
|Publication date:||14th August 2014|
|Publisher:||Preface Publishing an imprint of Cornerstone|
Henry Hemming is the author of four previous books, including Misadventure in the Middle East which was shortlisted for the Dolman Travel Book Award. He has written for publications including The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Financial Times, Washington Post and The Economist. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.More About Henry Hemming