Jeremy Harding writes:
Preliminary sketches for the great canvas of the Cold War were already under way in the Balkans in the summer of 1944 when Frank Thompson was executed. Bulgaria was a member of the Axis and Frank, older brother of the historian E.P. Thompson, was on a mission in the country for Special Operations Executive: the idea was that anti-Nazi partisans should be encouraged and supported in their efforts to stir up trouble, as their neighbours the Yugoslav partisans were doing, and keep German units too busy to deploy elsewhere. Peter Conradi handles this material extremely well, and draws on E.P. Thompsonís lectures in Stanford in 1981 about his brother, later collated by his widow, Dorothy Thompson, as Beyond the Frontier. E.P. is more committed than Conradi to the idea that Frank was one of the early casualties of the Cold War. They agree on several points: that the Bulgarian partisans were inept and quixotic, that it was hard for a team of SOE officers to turn them into an effective force, and that their Yugoslav counterparts were altogether better organised.
(LRB 7 March 2013)
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC | Hardback
432 pp. |ISBN: