Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A History of Betrayal

I did my best while researching The Infiltrator to visit key locales in Chicago, New York, Paris, London, Colchester and Dublin. This led to a strange discovery when I was in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, New York.

I was curious to take a look at the building at 161 West 4th Street where defectors from the Irish independence movement secretly went to the British government to become paid informers in North America.

The narrow brick townhouse that housed the office of British consul Edward Mortimer Archibald in the 1860s sits in what today is a fairly trendy address, although there's now a sex shop next door.

It's the same address where, almost 50 years ago, a young Bob Dylan lived, before he became famous. Dylan was describing his experiences in this neighbourhood in 1965 when he recorded "Positively 4th Street."

The theme of the song? Betrayal.

The song is about false friends in the artistic community, but Dylan could have been writing about the independence movement, when he wrote:

"You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning."

Peter Edwards, author of The Infiltrator: Henri Le Caron, the British spy inside the Fenian movement

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