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Churchill's Iceman The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke: Genius, Fugitive, Spy by Henry Hemming

Churchill's Iceman The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke: Genius, Fugitive, Spy

Biography / Autobiography   History   eBook Favourites   

Sue Baker's view...

Geoffrey Pyke, one of those little-known geniuses that seem to litter British history, inventor, innovator, journalist and campaigner, with his skills and political contacts he had friends and contacts at every level of society reaching even to Churchill at the height of WW2. So – was he also a tool of the Russians? MI5 certainly thought so, right up to his suicide in 1948. In a story that reads more like a thriller, Henry Hemming untangles the complex story of Geoffrey Pyke.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. This is the fascinating story of the enigmatic genius Geoffrey Pyke, a man who was a hero in both World Wars, yet is far from being a household name, possibly because it is so difficult to pigeonhole him. |He variously made a living as a journalist, advertising copywriter, educationalist, entrepreneur, jailbreaker, political activist, scientist, but it was as a military inventor that brought him to Winston Churchill’s attention at the height of the Second World War, proposing among other things an aircraft carrier made of wood pulp and ice.
~ Anthony Lafferty

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Churchill's Iceman The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke: Genius, Fugitive, Spy by Henry Hemming

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.

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'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

'His was not a lucky life but, in his biographer, he has gained a little bit of posthumous luck. This admirable and thoroughly enjoyable book should rescue a weirdly original and innovative talent from oblivion' The Sunday Times

'A biography that reads wonderfully like an adventure story and looks set to restore to Pyke the fame he deserves... Hemming's great achievement is to turn the story of a nerdish chameleon into a page-turner and to make someone hitherto unknown seem crucial to his century' Guardian

About the Author

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

12th February 2015


Henry Hemming

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Arrow Books Ltd an imprint of Cornerstone


560 pages


Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites

Biography: science, technology & medicine
Inventions & inventors
Espionage & secret services



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