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 recently declassified MI6 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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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By professor robin matthews on 20-09-17
Reading ok makes the best of a weak book
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Fewer cliches and more understanding
Really its invective
If the author has such a low opinion of the characters -why write about them?
Maybe they are very limited people, with little to recommend them but they must have had some complexity.
Would you listen to another book narrated by Gareth Armstrong?
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Traitors?
Tell the author to do some research or choose a topic he approved of.
We know the characters are limited and lack for the most part authenticity - but why??
By Mary Carnegie on 03-09-17
Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) is still remembered by the first postwar generation by his infamous "Gairmany calling" introduction to his black propaganda radio broadcasts. John Amery's father & brother seem to have left memories which no longer include the shabby career of their treacherous relative. I'd never heard of Eric Pleasants, probably the least malignant of the quartet. If I didn't recall Harold Cole's name, it could be that he's one of many despicable people who betrayed country and humanity in occupied & Vichy France.
Cole is arguably a psychopath- empathy forms no part of his makeup. He understands human nature, the better to manipulate others, with the easy lies and superficial charm of the really nasty, simulating feelings to his own evil ends. War or no, he was never going to be a useful member of society, though the fearlessness of psychopathy could have been useful in a contract killer. Perhaps he would have found a niche in Hitler's campaign of destruction, but grandiosity would have lead to his downfall even there.
John Amery was also a fantasist. Born to privilege, from childhood he was ungovernable. Difficult to blame background or genetics, since father & brother turned out OK (assuming you think Tory MPs are OK - irony!) I'd have liked to know more about his early years, from birth, his mother, as I suspect a developmental disorder.
Joyce was energised by hatred - of Ireland's independence and those involved (UK govt included), of Jews - though he knew none - and was so extreme that Moseley expelled him from the British Union of Fascists, that collection of cranks & militants who would now be described as alt-right.
By comparison the Cambridge spies seem like Boy Scouts - at least in their beginnings. The fascist menace was in your face, Stalin's excesses less well known. He became "Uncle Joe" in Allied circles! Their treachery I also deplore, but they were more human, and their revulsion regarding fascist activity in Europe and its approbation by many Establishment figures in UK seems more honest.
Traitors rarely die in their own beds, at threescore years & ten, comforted by the rites of the Church. Booze, drugs, shunning (by both sides), an unmarked grave in unconsecrated ground await - at best..
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Salui on 07-08-17
This book deftly tells the stories of a number of British men who betrayed their country in World War 2, and who went to work for the Germans in a number of capacities. While I knew about some of the better-known among them such as the fascists Lord Haw Haw and John Amery (son of one of Winston Churchill's cabinet members), I did not know about others in this infamous group. It is a fascinating narrative, and I most highly recommend it.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 21-09-17
Very interesting story. I knew a bit about William Joyce but not much about some of the other notorious British Fascist. Interesting book about some forgotten figures in history. Gareth Armstrong did a excellent job of narration.