West’s acclaimed examination of traitors, this gripping profile takes readers inside World War II spy rings and gets to the heart of what it means to betray one’s country
Throughout her career, Rebecca West dug into psyches, real and fictional, to try to understand the meaning of betrayal. In the aftermath of World War II, West was incensed when several wartime turncoats were tried with seeming indifference—and worse, sympathy—from the British public. In exploring these traitors’ origins, crimes, and motivations, West exposes how class division, greed, and discrimination can taint loyalties and redraw the relationships between individuals and their fatherland. A fascinating book, The Meaning of Treason combines the intrigue of a spy novel with West’s classic, careful dissection of man’s moral struggles. “Certainly this is one of the best books to come out of the war: a great subject seriously treated, in spite of its horrifying materials.” —The New York Times Dame Rebecca West (1892–1983) is one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists, journalists, and literary critics of the twentieth century. Uniquely wide-ranging in subject matter and breathtakingly intelligent in her ability to take on the oldest and knottiest problems of human relations, West was a thoroughly entertaining public intellectual. In her eleven novels, beginning with The Return of the Soldier, she explored topics including feminism, socialism, love, betrayal, and identity. West’s prolific journalistic works include her coverage of the Nuremberg trials for the New Yorker, published as A Train of Powder, and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, her epic study of Yugoslavia. She had a son with H.G. Wells, and later married banker Henry Maxwell Andrews, continuing to write, and publish, until she died in London at age ninety.