After 20 years making television documentary films, John took up writing and has published over a dozen books, on nature, politics and several biographies. Years ago he wrote ‘Where to Watch Birds in Ealing’ and was labelled ‘Ealing’s Bird Man’. He also wrote a nature blog for the Friends of Walpole Park.
His latest book, A Political Family: Fascism, Espionage and the Cold War, (published by Routledge) is very different – a family biography covering the rise of Hitler, the Second World War and the Cold War seen through the lives of one Anglo-German family. This family – parents and six children – fled Hitler and found exile in Britain during the war. One member, Ursula, gained notoriety as a Soviet agent and playing courier for the atomic spy Klaus Fuchs. She helped ensure that the Soviet Union obtained the West’s nuclear secrets. The espionage writer Chapman Pincher called her ‘the most successful woman espionage agent of all time’, but the family was not only known for its involvement in espionage, but could boast world-renowned academics. Robert René, the father, was pioneered the use of statistics for social purposes and carried out Britain’s first systematic demography of its colonial possessions. Among the family’s friends were Albert Einstein and leading Labour politicians of the era like John Strachey and Harald Laski as well as prominent literary figures, including the poet, Lilian Bowes-Lyon, first cousin to the late Queen Mother. Four of the family settled in Britain after the war and played active roles in Britain’s political and social life.
The book has received rave reviews…
John Green provides a wonderfully rich account of this family of intellectuals, social activists and fighters against fascism. He also offers new insights into what it meant to be on the pro-Soviet left during the twentieth century’s ‘age of extremes’.
Matthew Stibbe, Professor of Modern European History, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
This captivating account of the Kuczynskis is far more than a family saga. John Green has produced a personalised history of the turbulent lives of left German Jews from the 1930s till after the Cold War on both sides of the Iron Curtain. A provoking book that brilliantly challenges readers to rethink the past.
Stephan Lieske, Lecturer, English Department, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
How to find the Orchard Cafe:
Bookings are closed for this event.