Richard Pape’s reputation as a daredevil and dashing ex-military man turned author, coupled with a handily placed article in a British tabloid, helped to create the impression that Arm Me Audacity was autobiography, fictionalised for reasons of national security. Part one of this review investigates the novel’s background. Part two returns to more familiar Russia-in-fiction reviewing territory. What is the book about? And how does it portray Russia?
In particular, to those familiar with the traits of Cold War espionage thrillers and their representation of the Soviet Union, how present are these in a popular thriller from the 1950s?
Published in 1954, Arm Me Audacity is a fascinating thriller, particularly when read from the standpoint of the 21st-century. Its author, Richard Pape, was a former RAF man who had turned his wartime exploits —captured and tortured by the Nazis only to then escape by ingenious and dashing means— into an autobiographical bestseller Boldness Be My Friend (1953).
Arm Me Audacity tells the story of Anthony Petheran, an Englishman with a wartime biography similar to that of the author, who hatches a plan to travel behind the Iron Curtain and assassinate a British defector to the Soviet Union.