“A major study of public scholarship, using the past to inform contemporary global security.”


Current Work

I am an historian at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where I am Assistant Director of the Applied History Project and Director of Research of the Intelligence Project. My research studies intelligence history, grand strategy, and statecraft.

My forthcoming book, SPIES, takes readers inside the past and present intelligence war being waged between East and West. To be published in 2023, it unveils secrets about the conflict that has shaped our present world more than any other: the Cold War. Centering on key characters, never-before seen archival research in multiple languages and countries, and a synthesis of dramatic storytelling, it shows that last century’s intelligence conflict between superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, provides a chilling warning about this century’s clash underway: between the United States and China.

Along with SPIES, I am also a general editor, with Christopher Andrew, of the multi-volume CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF ESPIONAGE AND INTELLIGENCE to be published by Cambridge University Press. Over three volumes, with 90 chapters by leading scholars, this project will be a landmark study of intelligence, exploring its use and abuse in statecraft and warfare from the ancient world to the present day. Described as a prestigious and timely project by Cambridge University Press, when published it will be the most authoritative collection of experts ever assembled to write about intelligence history.

My research builds on my doctorate in History at Trinity College, Cambridge, and postdoctoral Junior Research Fellowship at Cambridge, where I wrote my first book, EMPIRE OF SECRETS British intelligence, the Cold War and the Twilight of Empire (Harper-Press 2013). Highly acclaimed and translated into multiple languages, it won the Longman History-Today Book of the Year Award 2013. While at Cambridge, I was also a lead researcher on Christopher Andrew’s unprecedented authorized centenary history of the British Security Service (MI5), DEFEND THE REALM. The Authorized history of MI5 (Penguin 2009). This research position provided me, for six years, with privileged access to archives of MI5, the world’s longest-running security intelligence service.

I am a regular contributor in print and broadcast media on both sides of the Atlantic, with my research featured on the BBC, Washington Post, POLITICO, Foreign Policy, and other outlets. I am also a qualified English barrister (attorney). I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with my partner, Catherine, and son, Hayden, who regularly teaches me more about subterfuge than any secret archive or intelligence service.