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Michael Straight; said he was recruited to spy for Soviets

CHICAGO -- Michael Straight, the former publisher of The New Republic who in the 1930s was recruited to spy for the Soviets by Anthony Blunt and later provided information that led to the British spy's unmasking, died at home Sunday of pancreatic cancer. He was 87.

In his 1983 memoir, "After Long Silence," Mr. Straight wrote that he was recruited at Cambridge in 1937 by Blunt, then a don at the university.

He returned to the United States and took a job with the State Department, but wrote that the only papers he passed to a Soviet agent he knew as Michael Green were economic and political analyses that he had written himself.

Mr. Straight said he revealed his involvement with the Soviet Union in 1963 when he was offered a top arts position in the Kennedy administration.

Fearing a background check, he went to Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a special assistant to Kennedy. Schlesinger directed him to the Justice Department, where he gave his story to the FBI.

His FBI interviews led to the unmasking of Blunt, who by then was the curator of Queen Elizabeth II's art collection.

Mr. Straight turned down the arts position that led to his revelations, but in 1969 he became deputy chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts.

Mr. Straight had left the State Department to work as a correspondent with The New Republic, where he became editor in 1941. He left the next year to serve in the Army Air Forces until 1946, then returned to the magazine and became publisher, a post he held until 1956.

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