The Traitors: A True Story of Blood, Betrayal and Deceit by Josh Ireland - review by Adrian Weale

Adrian Weale

Cheering for Hitler

The Traitors: A True Story of Blood, Betrayal and Deceit


John Murray 324pp £20 order from our bookshop

Unlike the Cambridge spies, the British renegades who threw in their lot with Nazi Germany are not much written about. There are several reasons for this, but I suspect that the most important is that Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt and company had a meretricious Establishment glamour about them. By contrast, William Joyce, John Amery and the hundred or so others who wound up on Hitler’s side were broadly cranks, weirdos and petty criminals; nobody was that surprised to find that they had taken up with the wrong side in a war of national survival. When, in 1947, Rebecca West published The Meaning of Treason, her disgust and contempt for the men she observed at the postwar treason trials radiated from every page.

In The Traitors, Josh Ireland focuses his attention on four individuals: Joyce, Amery, Harold Cole and Eric Pleasants. Joyce, better known as Lord Haw-Haw, is probably the most interesting. Born in New York to an Irish expatriate family in 1906, he returned with them to live in Ireland

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