Andrew, Christopher.


Rep., 1985. Xviii + 619 pp., photo & other plates. D.j., 24 x 16cm. Small bump to upper corner & light marks to 2 edges o/w V.G. From the Library of Admiral Sir L. McGeoch and inscribed by his son at Christmas; Cutting of a book review tipped-in. (Vice-Admiral Sir Ian McGeoch, 1914-2007, WWII British Submarine Ace and serial escaper from German POW camps. Commanded submarines in the Med. 1942-43 and his many patrols in SPLENDID sank enemy shipping supplying North Africa as well as Axis naval vessels for which he was awarded the DSO and DSC for his bravery and skill. In April 1943 he was captured off Capri in action with a German destroyer ; 18 of his crew were killed and he himself lost an eye, but he was the last man off his boat which he made sure would sink rather than fall into enemy hands, As a POW he several times escaped and was re-captured but in a final escape he walked 400 miles to Switzerland so that he could re-join the war.) This is the first comprehensive, scholarly study of the emergence of one of the world's major intelligence communities. There are surprising revelations in every chapter. Detailed references to a wide and novel range of sources give the book an authority lacking in much previous writing on the subject. The author shows how today's MI5 and MI6 owe their foundation to the Edwardian delusion that Britain was teeming with German spies. The rebirth of British codebreaking and the rapid expansion of the intelligence community during the First World War led to a mixture of remarkable successes and sometimes farcical confusion, which is analysed here for the first time. The book also shows British intelligence against Soviet Russia in a new light. Celebrated secret agents such as Sidney Reilly and W. Somerset Maugham emerge as something of a liability. British codebreakers, however, provided a stream of intercepted Soviet communications which foreshadowed the Ultra secret of the Second World War. The stream dried up after a series of spectacular government indiscretions. Inter-war government neglect left the intelligence community ill-equipped to deal with the rise of Nazi Germany and led to a series of fiascos in which Whitehall failed to distinguish good intelligence from bogus intelligence plants. There followed a remarkable renaissance at the beginning of the Second World War. The author shows how a major new recruitment and the inspired leadership of Churchill led to the intelligence community's finest hour and a decisive victory over its German opponents. An epilogue puts the post-war problems and successes of the community, as well as the eccentricities of government policy, in historical perspective.

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