Papa Spy – Reviews

In addition major features and interviews related to the book and written by the author have appeared in several media in the UK,US and Spain.

“A thrilling book, written with passion and precision.”
Javier Cercas

“Tom Burns inhabited intricate worlds to which his son, Jimmy, is a lucid and fluent guide:  British and Spanish high society, the hivelike intensity of life in wartime Madrid, and the intersecting complexities of Anglo-Spanish espionage (in which my own father worked with Jimmy’s). With extraordinary detachment and an abundance of flair, which recall the professional diablerie of the spies, Jimmy makes sense of events that baffled their beholders and weaves into his study of his father’s life a fascinating tale of the perils,prejudices,jealousies, and internecine conflicts with which the secret service was riven.2
Felipe Fernandez Armesto

“Full of interest for readers who care about Spain and Spanish history … The author has embarked on a journey to find a satisfactory answer to the old question “What did you do in the war, Daddy?”.  The answers he finds are fascinating, not only for the human story he uncovers, but also for the shafts of light they throw upon the relationship between Spain and the UK during the years following Franco’s victory in the Civil War and the end of World War II … a compelling and lively read … the story of his life contains enough colour and excitement to provide a very good read.”
David Brighty
, Anglo-Spanish Society Quarterly Review

Nicholas Rankin, Literary Review

“A masterpiece of historical journalism that untangles a complex web of intrigue and explains in clear terms a hugely important but largely ignored chapter from World War 11.”
Jonathan Smith, Cervantes Institute

2Gripping…all the spying made my head spin, in a good way,”
Elisa Segrave’s Book of the Year in The Tablet

“Burns Junior didn’t quite grasp in his father’s lifetime how much about a remarkable past had been left unsaid. Papa Spy is his account of finding out … Most parents keep details of their past form their children – former lovers, youthful follies or worse. What makes Tom Burns’s secrets fascinating is that they touch directly on the conduct, and arguably the outcome, of the Second World War … This is a great story, with drama, betrayal and historical significance. Jimmy Burns has painstakingly pieced it together with great precision and admirable detachment.”
Peter Stanford, Independent

“Unlike some of the practioners of the genre, Burns has a fascinating and intriguing story to tell about his father…a thoughtful and perceptive account of a remarkable life.,”
Robert Low, Standpoint Magazine

‘British journalist Burns’s fascinating account of his father’s diplomatic service in Madrid (1940-45) has multiple themes … Recommended reading for anyone interested in modern Spanish history, World War II diplomacy, espionage activities, and Communist penetration of the British intelligence bureaucracy.”
Library Journal

2The author’s re-creation of his father’s wartime activities exposes a hive of complex spy games and a fascinating, little-discussed part of WWII. Good and evil blur in this descent into the shadowy, slippery realm of wartime espionage.”

“Utterly engrossing and  revelatory…Jimmy Burns is masterly in making comprehensible the welter of intrigue and the milieu in which it flourished, and in laying out diplomatic and propagandist manoevers, vexed allegiances, provisional associations, and downright  treachery.”
Katherine A.Powers, Boston Globe

“It all sounds astonishingly amateurish, a combination of James Bond and public school heroics, but for Tom Burns it ended happily …  Jimmy Burns has not written a conventional biography, but he has used his father’s story as the peg on which to hang an account of secret intelligence in war time Spain… this is a story that needs to be told, and Jimmy Burns tells it well.”
Jane Ridley, Spectator

“Frank and revealing … a world of intrigue and betrayal … This book could have told the story of yet another wartime operation – informative but just a description of events that are fast melting into the mist of history. It is lifted beyond that to become a son’s search for who his father really was. ****”
Phillip Knightley, Daily Telegraph

“Lovers of Spain, lovers of true spy stories and lovers of love itself will adore this enchanting book: Burns junior has served up a feast.”
Nigel Jones Sunday Telegraph

“Jimmy Burns’s lively biography of his father is more than an act of filial piety… the murky world of intelligence, counter-intelligence, deception and double agents, provide a series of real James Bonds.”
Sir Raymond Carr’s book of the year in The Specctator

“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.”
John Hinton, Catholic Herald

“Noone who picks up anything written by Jimmy Burns will be bored…..he always writes with greate verve…Papa Spy is undoubtedly a work of filial piety but is also of considerable importance as an account of the way Britain dealth with neutral, fascist Spain during the war years.”
Hugh O’Shaughnessy, The Tablet

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