The Traitors

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

3.76 (42 ratings by Goodreads)
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'An epic tale of love, dishonour, bravery, cowardice, betrayal and high-treason. Beautifully written. A stunning debut' Damien Lewis

Playboy. Fascist. Strongman. Thief.

September 1939. For years now Britain has been rudderless, divided and grievously unequal. Successive governments have floundered as they struggled to cope with economic misery at home and machinations abroad. Many of the country's citizens are seduced by fascism; others are simply left alienated by leaders who seem unwilling or unable to take the decisive action that is so desperately needed.

When war breaks out the imperiled nation achieves the unity and purpose that has eluded it for more than a decade. It is a time of heroism and sacrifice in which many thousands of soldiers and civilians give their lives. But some Britons choose a different path, renegades who will fight for the Third Reich until its gruesome collapse in 1945. The Traitors tells the stories of four such men: the chaotic, tragic John Amery; the idealistic but hate-filled William Joyce; the cynical, murderous conman Harold Cole; and Eric Pleasants, an iron-willed pacifist and bodybuilder who wants no part in this war.

Drawing on declassified MI5 files, as well as diaries, letters and memoirs, The Traitors is a book about disordered lives in turbulent times; idealism twisted out of shape; of torn consciences and abandoned loyalties; of murder, deceit, temptation and loss. It shows how a man might come to desert his country's cause, and the tragic consequences that treachery brings in its wake.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 31mm | 585g
  • John Murray Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1473620325
  • 9781473620322
  • 332,448

Review quote

Ireland tells his four characters' stories with immense skill, to reveal their motives and lead them to inevitable ruin. In the process, he raises a question of great importance now: what is patriotism, and why should we care? * Observer, Books of the Year * His book is timely, certainly, in raising questions about patriotic loyalty . . . Josh Ireland writes with friendly immediacy. He is a suave raconteur who gets the pace of his stories right * TLS * A well-written and very readable account of these four unappealing characters . . . this is a tough subject to get to grips with. Ireland's book is a very worthy effort * Literary Review * Absorbing . . . Josh Ireland organises this testament of treachery with vim and purpose . . . he skewers his subjects with a piercing revulsion * Mail on Sunday * Startlingly vivid . . . unmistakably a book of our times * Prospect Magazine * Ireland's book gives a good flavour of the personality defects that caused men to betray their country . . . Ireland tells their stories entertainingly, and examines their motives without prejudice * Daily Telegraph * [Ireland] comments intelligently on their motives and describes enough of their worlds and views to give us essential context * The Spectator * Ireland gives a vivid account of this repellent, but fascinating, quartet * Daily Mail * Josh Ireland's achievement is to tell the story of some of Britain's most inglorious, notorious and vainglorous characters in the most glorious and elegant way. He provides a warning for our times from this true story, painting the most vivid of pictures with the sharpest of novelist's pens * John Bew * A terrific read that is lucid, insightful and beautifully written. Josh Ireland's masterful prose breathes life into these complex, deceitful, yet profoundly fascinating traitors. Set against a backdrop of violent extremism and political failure, The Traitors rings a loud warning bell from history * Giles Milton * An epic tale of love, dishonour, bravery, cowardice, betrayal and high-treason. Beautifully written. A stunning debut * Damien Lewis * In this clever, racy book [Josh Ireland] tells the stories of four British citizens who served Nazi Germany . . . full of energy and stylish phrase-making * The Times *
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About Josh Ireland

Josh Ireland was born in 1981 and lives in London. After leaving York University with a masters in history he worked in publishing for eight years and is now a freelance editor and writer. The Traitors is his first book.
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Rating details

42 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 21% (9)
4 43% (18)
3 29% (12)
2 5% (2)
1 2% (1)
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