An original history about spying and showbiz from Shakespeare to the Cold War to present day stardom
A hugely entertaining and original history of the interplay between spying and showbiz, featuring Marlowe and Shakespeare, but focusing mostly on the twentieth century, the golden era of the Cold War and up to the present day.
Throughout history, the crossover between thespians and secret agents has waxed and waned, often producing some of the most extraordinary undercover agents, and at others leading to disastrous and dangerous failures. The fact that one relies on publicity and the other on secrecy might at first appear to dictate against a successful symbiosis; however, as both involve advanced abilities in creative thinking, improvisation, disguise and role-play, they inevitably attract some remarkably similar personalities.
In this unique history of the interplay between the two worlds, we travel back to Elizabethan England and the works of playwright-come-spy Christopher Marlowe and to the Restoration era to encounter the first female playwright and first female spy Aphra Behn. We visit civil war America and turn of the century Paris to reveal a whole undercurrent of female spy roles as seducers and as efficient and vital agents, as well as inventing a string of exotic myths.
And as the story moves through the twentieth century and the role of spying in geopolitical affairs becomes more central and more dark and dangerous, showbiz provides essential cover for people to gather information, hiding in plain sight, including an astonishing array of famous writers and producers who were drafted into the spying business during wartime, from Maugham, Coward, Fleming, Korda and Graham Greene. Over the course of the century, spying becomes ever more mainstream in popular culture, both in the James Bond adventures, in the spy thrillers of le Carre and Deighton and recently in long-running TV series such as The Americans.
Written by two experts in their fields with unrivalled access to the papers of key players and agencies, Stars and Spies is a unique examination of the historic links between espionage and show business.