Articles & Reports

Here can be found a variety of reports and articles that I have written over the years. Some have been published formally in magazines or periodicals, others are a mixture of postings on a number of topics that caught my attention, and which, I felt, merited an organised response.

May 2024: I belatedly present a direct link to my Review of Ben Macintyre’s ‘Agent Sonya’, previously accessible only through the December 2020 coldspur report.

May 2024: I have created a Synopsis of ‘The Airmen Who Died Twice’, for easier assimilation. It can be seen here. (The PDFs of the original coldspur posts can be seen at Special Bulletin: ‘The Airmen Who Died Twice’ – Part 1Special Bulletin: ‘The Airmen Who Died Twice’ – Part 2Special Bulletin: ‘The Airmen Who Died Twice’ – Part 3; and Special Bulletin: ‘The Airmen Who Died Twice’ – Part 4.)

March 2024: At long last, I have accumulated the ten separate reports on the demise of the PROSPER circuit into an Omnibus Edition, visible here. I also converted my reports on Philby from the period March  to September 2023 into an Omnibus Edition, to be seen here.

September 2022: I compiled a dossier on the ignorant and irresponsible practice of the New York Times in not knowing the difference between the singular and plural forms of ‘bacterium/bacteria’, giving dozens of examples that I have pointed out to the Editors. I continue to update the report here.

November 2019: One of most loyal correspondents, an ex-intelligence officer himself, recommended that I post on coldspur the original chapter on methodology from my thesis. It thus appears here.

September 2018: Earlier this year, I started a new saga, arising from my study of Sonia’s Radio, which investigates the puzzling inability of the RSS to pick up  Soviet spies as well as its apparently failure to detect the Abwehr agents broadcasting to Germany, when the latter were actually being controlled by the Double-Cross System. I shall continue to consolidate  the posts, which normally appear every other month, on the following page. (‘The Mystery of the Undetected Radios’) (September 25, 2018)

September 2016: As an outgrowth of the research undertaken for my doctoral dissertation, I started to investigate the case of the strangely overlooked radio transmitter of the Soviet spy Sonia, in wartime Britain.  The story evolves in a series of occasional monthly posts that are, and will continue to be, consolidated here, in ‘Sonia’s Radio’. (September 30, 2016)

September 2015: History Today published ‘The Undercover Egghead’, the embryo of my eventual doctoral thesis, where the emphasis shifted away from Berlin to specific mishaps of MI5. I present the text here, with a linkage to the HT website,which requires a subscription. (November 27, 2018)

March 2014: Various items of reading cause me to reflect on the fate of the region of Ruthenia, and its relationship to the crisis in Crimea. (“Homage to Ruthenia“) (March 31, 2014)

January 2014: A BBC series on Ian Fleming, in proximity to reading about the Munich crisis, prompts some observations about Hitler’s notorious work (‘Who Read ‘Mein Kampf?‘). (January 31, 2014)

November 2013: Discussions with an old friend about a noted centenary lead to some surprising discoveries (“Emily Davison’s Wig“). (November 2013)

October 2013; A Halloween-inspired account of my recent trip to the UK (“September Spooks“). (October 31, 2013)

February 2013: A chance email dialogue provokes a series of historico-biographical musings about WWII and the Surrey hills near which I spent my childhood. (“Reflections on the North Downs“)

November 2011: I have added an article celebrating the arrival of our granddaughter -“An American Odyssey“, as well as an expansion of a letter by me published by the New York Times, explaining why I believe the Individual Mandate of the Affordable Healthcare Act is unconstitutional – “The Individual Mandate“.

May 2010: I have added a document containing references to famous individuals flaunting their Rolls Royces. This collection started after I noted (on ‘Orwell’s Clock‘) how George Orwell continually drew attention to the appearance of these automobiles on the streets of London, remarking how such an obvious sign of inequality was bad for morale after WW II. I used Orwell’s obsession with this notion as a sign of the shallowness of his economic thinking, and his focus on inequality rather than liberty. The citations speak for themselves – seen here: ‘Rolls Royces‘.

April 1: The 2010 Census

A semi-jocular look at this largely misguided event.

An Insurance Windstorm

This report (see tab, left) underwent several editions during the Summer of 2008. It highlights what I see as a series of actions of subterfuge and conspiracy against the public on the behalf of the North Carolina Department of Insurance and other government departments, and members of the homeowners’ insurance industry in the state – not all of whom may have been willing participants. The Department has effectively ‘bundled’ Wind and Hail insurance with conventional homeowner’s insurance, and created a monopoly out of what was previously a competitive market, at the same time extending the originally intended scope of exposed ‘beach’ properties to a large swath of coastal North Carolina.

What I think is really shameful is the pusillanimity of the press in researching and following up on this story. It is the slothfulness of such organs as the Wilmington Star-News and the Raleigh News & Observer that prompted me to set up my own website to publicize my report and make it available for the millions (?) out there panting for information and analysis.

Since I completed my report, several articles about the Beach Plan have appeared in the local press. From my own reading, and from listening to others trying to determine what is going on, these articles have been self-contradictory and not very helpful. Earlier this year, however, the John Locke Foundation published a report on the Beach Plan, to be found at (I had contacted the John Locke Foundation – an organization promoting libertarian ideas, and a restricted role for government – in the Fall of 2008, but an officer explained to me that the foundation was too busy to inspect problems with the Beach Plan. I was thus a little surprised when it advertised this report early in December 2008, and it was released at the beginning of 2009.) This report was educational for me, as it analyzed the uncomfortable relationship between the Department of Insurance and the insurance companies in good depth, but I found that its approach lacked rigor, and its overall conclusions were too timid. I accordingly wrote to its author (with whom I had also been in touch in December), expressing my disappointments. The text of that letter (in a slightly extended form) can be viewed here. LetterToEliLehrer. Mr Lehrer replied immediately, essentially agreeing with my comments, but has not yet given me permission to publish his response here.

“Orwell’s Clock”

This article (written in 2004) was prompted by my reading of the four-volume edition of George Orwell’s Collected Journalism and Essays and Letters. I particularly noted Orwell’s lazy approach to quotation, demonstrating a photographic memory that was nevertheless flawed. Sadly, my article did not find a publisher, but the diagnosis at which I arrived – that Orwell had Asperger’s Syndrome – was subsequently confirmed by Professor Michael Fitzgerald of Trinity College, Dublin, in his 2005 book The Genesis Of Artistic Creativity. After reading my article, Professor Fitzgerald kindly complimented me, in a private letter, on my insights and depth of research.

Hogamous, Higamous

This article was published in Volume XXIX, No 3 of Verbatim Magazine. It explores the provenance of a quotation rather dubiously attributed to William James by the Oxford University Press. It appears here with the permission of Verbatim, which owns the copyright. Verbatim can be found at

The Hyperbolic Contrast

This article was published in Volume XXX, No 4 of Verbatim Magazine. It provides examples of a rhetorical structure that I have named ‘the Hyperbolic Contrast’. Since the article was published, I have discovered a likely source for the construct on which my most prominent example was probably modeled. In John Buchan’s Greenmantle, he writes, in Chapter 1: “Loos was no picnic, and we had some ugly bits of scrapping before that, but the worst bit of the campaign I had seen was a tea-party to the show I had been in with Bullivant before the war started.” [Richard Hannay] , and “How if there is a thing which you alone can do? Not some embusqué business in an office, but a thing compared to which your fight at Loos was a Sunday-school picnic.” [Sir Walter Bullivant] The article appears here with the permission of Verbatim, which owns the copyright. Verbatim can be found at Visitors can also inspect my running record of examples of Hyperbolic Contrast by clicking on here: ‘Hyperbolic Contrast Examples‘.

A Recent Mirror

In 2005, the History Book Club announced its annual Essay Contest, the assignment being to answer the following question: ‘What period in history do our present times most resemble?’, the winning entrant selecting the period 323 B.C.E. to 30 B.C.E. I won second prize with an essay comparing the decade to the 1930s, and, in view of the fact that the parallels identified then have become more intense, I re-publish it here. This represents a kind of victory for me, as I failed spectacularly at History O-Level in the UK back in 1961. My then history teacher was responsible, in providing evidence of my feeble grasp of the subject, for spreading the vile canard that I, alone among his pupils, could not identify the two combatants in the Russo-Japanese War.

The Friends of Denis Healey

A compilation of Denis Healey’s friends, as identified explicitly by the British politician in his autobiography The Time of My Life.

Eating the Seed Corn

Some musings generated by a letter on taxing of assets published by the New York Times.

3 Responses to Articles & Reports

  1. Reader in Ottawa

    This is a wonderful site and I am very much enjoying an adventure in exploring it.

    Thank you for putting so much of ‘you’ (e.g., opinions, ideas, writings, exchanges) into what is to be found here. It is often rather like listening in on a conversation !!!

  2. john harris

    Dear Coldspur

    I have been researching Dansey in connection with the Hess affair and in particular the Tancred Borenius trip to Geneva in January 1941. Are you aware of the same please as I think it central to the later flight?

    • coldspur

      Thank you for your comment, John.
      I have not yet studied Dansey’s involvement with Hess (although other correspondents have encouraged me to inspect the Hess business more closely. See, for example, a recent comment on Philby and Haushofer).
      Can you let me know more, such as what your sources are, and where you will be publishing (by private email, if you prefer)?


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