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M: MI5's First Spymaster [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Cook
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This is the amazing true story of the real 'M', William Melville, MI5's founding father and the inspiration for Ian Flemings's character in "James Bond". Melville was one of the most influential counter-espionage figures of the twentieth century. From a tiny outfit based in Victoria Street, London, the counter-intelligence organisation that Melville lobbied the Government to create is today a household name and one of the world's leading intelligence agencies. He was perfect for the job, a velvet-gloved hardman who had run Scotland Yard's Special Branch and whose career had already taken in some of London's great crime dramas including the Jack the Ripper Investigation, countering Irish Republican terrorism, assassination attempts on Queen Victoria and anarchist bomb plots. Now, with the help of recently declassified records, family material and documents that have still not officially seen the light of day, the story of his Secret Service career - including the breaking of German spy rings prior to the outbreak of World War I - can finally be told.

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Product Description


Hardback edition published in Autumn 2004 generated a huge amount of publicity: Half-page news story with 3 pictures in INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY; Double-page spread in THE DAILY EXPRESS and THE SUNDAY TIMES (Irish edition); Double-page feature written by author in HISTORY TODAY; 10 full page or double-page features in the British regional press; Book discussed on the MICHAEL PARKINSON RADIO SHOW and BREAKFAST WITH FROST. Received fantastic reviews also from bestselling authors: 'Well-researched, penetrating and engagingly written... an important and enjoyable addition to the growing genre of serious spook-history' ANDREW ROBERTS, author of Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership; 'A brilliantly researched biography of the real "M" - a far more hands-on character than 007's boss' DAME STELLA RIMINGTON, Former Director-General Of MI5 and author of At Risk. More praise: 'Compelling and authoritative... M was the most elusive and fascinating figure in the British Secret Service' LORD ROBERTSON, former Secretary-General of NATO; 'Provides much new and often colourful material' CHRISTOPHER M. ANDREW, author of The Mitrokin Archive. Widely reviewed and critically acclaimed: 'Ground-breaking' THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH; 'The secret life of the Victorian spymaster for became the original M' THE DAILY EXPRESS; 'One of the great espionage mysteries has finally been solved' THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY. Reviews in the paperback review sections of national daily and Sunday newspapers, weeklies, and history magazines to include The Times, THES, BBC History Magazine and The Sunday Telegraph.

About the Author

Andrew Cook worked for many years as a foreign affairs and defence specialist and the contacts he made enabled him to navigate and gain access to classified intelligence services archives. He is only the fifth historian to be given special permission under the 1992 'Waldegrave Initiative' by the Cabinet Office to examine closed MI6 documents that will never be released. He is author of critically acclaimed Ace of Spies: The True Story of Sidney Reilly ('Both a compelling narrative and a myth-shattering tour de force' Simon Sebag Montefiore; 'The absolute last word on the subject' Nigel West), To Kill Rasputin and Prince Eddy, all published by Tempus. He is a regular contributor on espionage history to The Guardian, The Times and History Today. He lives in Bedfordshire.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 627 KB
  • Print Length: 278 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0752439499
  • Publisher: The History Press (26 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078XHA8W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #132,229 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit disappointing, dry in places 21 Mar. 2013
I found this book a bit disappointing. While it purports to be a biography of the first M in the secret services, William Melville, he didn't feature hardly for much of the book, coming across, appropriately enough, as a shadowy figure. We learn about his humble background in Ireland and his moving to England, his early career as a bobby on the beat in South London arresting burglars and embezzlers, then his rise as a senior detective until his ostensible retirement in 1903 when he became involved in secret work, retiring from that in 1917 from ill health, and dying soon afterwards.

This is really much more a history of late 19th century policing, an era of great change, and of security threats in the 1870s to 1900s, the initial period dominated by Fenians and anarchists, then later by German spies, though most of these were rather pathetic figures and much of the spy fever was imaginary. What struck me was how contemporary some of this felt: bombs on the London underground in 1883 and the debates in Parliament, the press and society about acceptable boundaries between curtailing liberties and guaranteeing security.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Spy detection at its start 6 Feb. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Espionage has been with us for ever having been needed ever since man took up his first cudgel and the dawn of
dominion over the land of your tribe . Until the urbanisation brought about by industrialisation any stranger was
noted and remarked upon and had no chance of secrecy so any spies existed only at the top of feudal society but with the advent of steam and development of personal travel it was possible for nations to send agents to spy or forment
Political trouble. As usual the powers that be were fighting the previous war and slow to see the danger and counter
measures evolved from the new police force. This book is a study of a man who came from Ireland looking for work
and by chance rather than choice became a policeman,an occupation at which he excelled and in which he went into
the fight against anarchism. The agents,quaintly drawing and snapping forts were not noticed because of their novelty. Now they would be below the radar because of apathy and Google Earth. This book is a good history of life
before James Bond.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historically interesting but somewhat tedious 21 Feb. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I persevered through to the end! It is a book for those who like facts. The biggest frustration is the continual footnotes which are at the back of the book. This makes accessing them a tad difficult on the Kindle. It is however a fascinating insight into Policing in the late 19th & early 20th centuries.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fair but long winded 18 Feb. 2013
By x
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Massive amount of detail, often about all sorts of people, detracts from the main character. I found myself jumping from one chapter to the next, simply to avoid the next 15 pages that didn't tell me anything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book for the Historian 13 Feb. 2013
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This book is really for the historian rather than James Bond fans. It is rather stodgy and at times difficult to follow the various characters or leaps in time. For all that, it is a worthwhile read
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but plodding 19 Mar. 2013
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This book promises interest and excitement, and to some extent achieves both, but it is a bit long drawn out and pedestrian. On occasions it's somewhat muddling but then I suppose that espionage/counter espionage is just that. But it's also full of intrigue, secrecy and a lack of co-ordination, even rivalry, between various government departments. The historical backdrop is interesting too: from Fenians to anarchists to German spies and the First World War. However, while the book is ostensibly about William Melville, he is in fact just the lead character. I didn't feel I'd really got to know him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read 2 Feb. 2013
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A well written and researched book but I would have liked to get to know more about the man himself
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4.0 out of 5 stars M:MI5 First Spymaster 11 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book as a follow on to many other books based on the spy's from the war. It seemed a natural thing to read and I wasn't disappointed. I found that it was easy to pick up and put down and it was full of interesting details and facts that can be related to other stories from the many documentaries on related subjects. Well worth the read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Kindle book for me
I tried to persever with this but had to knock it on the head and filed it away. Maybe I would have dealt better with it as a paper book rather than as an e version. Read more
Published on 16 Jun. 2013 by FortyNine and Seven Eighths
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Was not sure if this was going to be up my street but am really glad to have found and read it, informative and interesting.
Published on 4 Jun. 2013 by Oldsparky
5.0 out of 5 stars historical perspective on today's security problems
Interesting insight into how history repeats itself. Reading it enables one to evaluate current developments round the world where 'terrorism' rules.
Published on 29 April 2013 by grumpus
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard work!
Factual, well referenced but it would have been a little easier to follow if written chronologically or if some sort of timeline had been included.
Published on 21 April 2013 by G D Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars mi5 i nteresting but not well written really became hard work
this book should have been edited more closely,it became boring after a few chapters.Should suit pre James Bond population,did you know that Ian Fleming called James Bond 007 after... Read more
Published on 30 Mar. 2013 by tonyjaxx
5.0 out of 5 stars 007 in real life
Very low key start to secret service but nevertheless a very interesting story of the beginnings of a very Edwardian service & it's spy catchers
Published on 20 Mar. 2013 by Elvis Presley
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
I read this whilst watching Ripper Street on the tv and together I was able to visualise the issues and situations that made the introduction of an intelligence service. Read more
Published on 18 Mar. 2013 by JacLaw
1.0 out of 5 stars Not written in an interesting way
Unless you want to wade through this for some research - forget it. Thought it would be really ineresting but unable to finish.
Published on 13 Mar. 2013 by Page Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, well worth a read
Good book. Filled in some details I was unaware of for the (in)famous Sidney Reilly.
Not easy to put down.
One for the history buffs out there
Published on 4 Mar. 2013 by Tim N
1.0 out of 5 stars not my sort of book.
This is a very disappointing book.More a list of names than a story. Guess I was expecting a spy story not a who's who of MI5.
Published on 1 Mar. 2013 by Amber
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