J. Edgar Hoover’s 50-Year Career of Blackmail, Entrapment, and Taking Down Communist Spies


Title: Donald and Melinda Maclean, a Traitorous Spy Team

Description: Join us as Steve talks with historian Michael Holzman about the dynamic duo of deception, Donald and Melinda Maclean. Donald Maclean lived an incredible lifestyle. He traveled in all of the most important circles of the British Foreign Service, until the authorities began circled around him because he was a spy for the Soviet Union. Then Maclean disappeared, only to show up in Moscow where he lived a second life as a Soviet Academic.


Learn More About our Guest:
Michael Holzman author of:
Spies and Traitors: Kim Philby, James Angleton and the Friendship and Betrayal that Would Shape MI6, the CIA and the Cold War

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“Crossing the Chasm” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Begin Transcript:

Thank you again for listening to Beyond the Big Screen podcast. We are a member of the Parthenon Podcast network. Of course, a big thanks goes out to Michael Holzman, author of numerous books on espionage and the Cold War. Links to learn more about Michael and his books can be found at his author’s page in the Show Notes.
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[00:00:00] Thank you again for joining us today, I am very excited to be joined by special guest Michael Holtzman, author of the book, Donald and Melinda McClain idealism and espionage. Michael is the author of numerous books, including James Jesus Angleton, the CIA and craft of intelligence, a biography of guy Burgess, spies, and trends.
Kim Philby James Angleton and the friendship and betrayal that would shape my sex as well as a novel packs. 1934 through 41. Michael has been on the show previously to talk about James Angleton, Kim Philby and Klaus Fuchs through his book on. Spies and traders. So I think this will fit in very well with this.
So today we’re going to talk about another spy trader story, which is related to the others. We have talked about the subject today is the dynamic duo of double crossing Donald and Melinda McLean. Their story’s more [00:01:00] complicated though than that’s. Um, so I really, I’m very thankful that Michael Holtzman is here today to tell us the rest of this incredible story.
Okay. Now, before we delve into the details of Donald and Melinda McClain’s life, maybe you can give us a really quick overview of what their story was from the 10,000 foot view to, and then we can start digging into some of us specifics. The story is usually told as the story of the career of Donald claim, Don, the client was.
Very successful foreign service officer of the British empire from 1938 or so until 1951. And then had a second career as a, uh, think tank person specializing in political science. And Moscow during his career for the [00:02:00] foreign office, the British foreign office, he was posted in many very important places.
Paris London, back in London, New York, Washington, and, uh, made it his practice. To send copies of everything that came across his desk that he thought would be interested in Moscow to Moscow, that a result of that, uh, during that period, as one of his colleagues said, it would have been better if the British hadn’t done that they, uh, smelly learned all of the inside details about things like.
Carlos an intervention in the winter war, uh, Penland in the Soviet union and crucially, they learned everything there was to learn about policy issues involving the atomic bomb and the plant. Preemptive [00:03:00] atomic war against the Soviet union in the late 1948. What was some of his, uh, Donald Maclean’s background?
Where did he come from? And what was his early education? Um, a member of was called tenability of the row. He wasn’t quite on the rest of it. His father was a member of parliament, uh, something of a self-made man from Scotland. Um, his mother came from a very similar background to that. Uh, uh, they weren’t arrested Kratts, but they were very comfortably off and extremely well connected to political.
Tunnel. And that claim was sent to Gresham’s school in Norfolk, which was considered to be a progressive school. And coincidentally, it was a school that attended by crime grain, and [00:04:00] all of us also Benjamin Britten. He did very well there. He played sports. He was extremely active in a school in those days.
And it’s quite well-prepared for the university education. He then went to Cambridge and he, uh, lived at Trinity. Which is a remarkable and smart college, certainly by American standards, two or three buildings squeezed in between Trinity and Kings. He imagined in modern languages, you’ve got a person with the highest possible.
Uh, score there. He made many trends. A lot of those friends were on the left and somewhere on the far left and some became was, he was, that was a McLean ideology, ideological and college. Did he get involved in the actual communist party or end these groups or was it [00:05:00] just a, uh, something he was interested in?
You became interested in McSwain politics while he was still at Gresham’s. Uh, his best friend was a man named James , who was, uh, uh, came from a business background, family business. And James Kligman a very politically conscious, very young age. Um, a claim was politically conscious as father to the member of parliament, who was also a member of the cabinet, came to the school and gave lectures and they.
We’re oriented towards a world government at that time. Peace so far, uh, when he was at Cambridge, got rapidly, went to the left and was probably we’ll have to distinguish here between being a communist and being a member of the communist party. You’ve as a communist [00:06:00] beliefs in a comedy as ideology. Yeah.
As soon as he stepped into canvas, which is fairly ironic, given how privileged Cambridge was, um, whether he joined the communist party or not, we can say John comments, but it’s not clear that the communist party thought he was incontinence. That was a bureaucratic issue. So the background of this.
Economics that your socioeconomic situation and England at the time, you had a very small really I’ve been reading the diaries of, uh, Henry Chip’s Channon, who was a social blight in this period. And if I can calculate that the aristocracy. Comprised of maybe 2000 adults. This was in a, in a country of 50 million people that most of the, uh, political influence, the political power in the country was through these 2000.
And, uh, the associated [00:07:00] people, like a claims father, they had incomes, uh, something like, uh, five to 10,000 pounds a year that would have been $45,000. And the currency of that time and 50 times. Um, and our occurrence, that’s a time typical working class families had a hundred pounds, um, and they were starting slowly.
We need to talk a little bit to the Cambridge five because somebody like Donna McClain, he didn’t come out of nowhere. He was in this group of like-minded individuals. Yes. Uh, I can cross with a Scott and that’s not really part of this. He was only associated with it, a memoir. So the, uh, Soviet official, there was, uh, a group of slightly older people and Cambridge, uh, professionals who were kind of theoretical [00:08:00] communes.
They had seen, uh, The same situation and they had earlier, uh, decided to that, that made that same decision, the crucial, uh, point, uh, political point, listen to general strike in the early 1920s where, uh, coal miners were, had their incomes cut below the subsistence level by the coal owners. And they went on strike and.

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"Donald and Melinda Maclean, a Traitorous Spy Team" History on the Net
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June 16, 2024 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/donald-and-melinda-maclean-a-traitorous-spy-team>
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