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Beyond the spooks: The problem of the narrator in literary history

Wheelwright, J. (2014). Beyond the spooks: The problem of the narrator in literary history. Journalism, 15(5), pp. 561-572. doi: 10.1177/1464884914523237


The discrepancies between a biography about a decorated Soviet intelligence agent and the authenticated facts of her life illustrate the inherent difficulties and ethical dilemmas of researching intelligence history. Kitty Harris was among the few women named in the official history of Soviet Intelligence because of her role as double-agent Donald MacLean’s controller and in running couriers from Mexico to Los Alamos in the late 1940s. Harris’s biography written by the former KGB agent Igor Damaskin, presents an example of a source that is unreliable since the majority of sources on which it is based remain closed to public scrutiny. This paper explores the difficulties of constructing a scholarly literary history in the field of intelligence when both interview sources and official records prove more unreliable, and susceptible to bias, than other public domain sources and records.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2014
Publisher Keywords: Literary journalism, intelligence history, Kitty Harris, Igor Damaskin, KGB, Mata Hari, Venona files, whistleblowers
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences
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