This is the extraordinary story of Geoffrey Pyke, an inventor, war reporter, escaped prisoner, campaigner, father, educator--and all-around misunderstood genius. In his day, he was described as one of the world's great minds, to rank alongside Einstein, yet he remains virtually unknown today. Pyke was an unlikely hero of both world wars and, among many other things, is seen today as the father of the U.S. Special Forces. He changed the landscape of British pre-school education, earned a fortune on the stock market, wrote a bestseller and in 1942 convinced Winston Churchill to build an aircraft carrier out of reinforced ice. He escaped from a German WWI prison camp, devised an ingenious plan to help the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and launched a private attempt to avert the outbreak of the Second World War by sending into Nazi Germany a group of pollsters disguised as golfers.
Despite his brilliance, Pyke ultimately could not find peace, committing suicide in 1948. Yet the full scope of his story remained secret even after his death: in 2009, MI5 released a mass of material suggesting that Pyke was in fact a senior official in the Soviet Comintern. In 1951 papers relating to Pyke were found in the flat of "Cambridge Spy' Guy Burgess after his defection to Moscow. MI5 had "watchers" follow Pyke through the bombed-out streets of London, his letters were opened and listening devices picked up clues to his real identity. Convinced he was a Soviet agent codenamed Professor P, MI5 helped to bring his career to an end. It is only now, more than sixty years after his death, that Geoffrey Pyke's astonishing story can be told in full. The Ingenious Mr. Pyke is a many-faceted account of this enigmatic man's genius, and reveals him as one of the great innovators of the last century.
Geoffrey Pyke, described in his 1948 Times of London obituary as "one of the most original if unrecognized figures of the present century," always seemed to find himself in the right place at the right time, as Hemming (Abdulnasser Gharem) documents in this masterful biography. In July 1914, with Europe on the verge of war, Pyke talked his way into a position with Reuters as special correspondent in Copenhagen. He was soon captured by the Germans and sent to the Ruhleben concentration camp, from which he escaped, writing a bestselling book about the experience. That alone makes for a riveting read, but Pyke's story was far from over. Hemming details how Pyke also made lasting innovations in educational theory, criticized Nazi anti-Semitism, aided the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, convinced Winston Churchill that an aircraft carrier made out of reinforced ice was a good idea, and was suspected of being a Soviet spy. Hemming's superlative text is nearly as nimble as Pyke's mind, and he reveals who this remarkable innovator really was. B&w photos.