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Memories of an SOE Historian [Hardcover]

M. R. D. Foot
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.99
Price: 13.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 Oct 2008
Michael (MRD) Foot enjoys the rare distinction of being the only person referred to by his real name in a John Le Carre novel. A highly significant tribute to the man entrusted with writing the official record of the Special Operations Executive. He authored first (1966) the History of SOE in France and twenty years later the highly sensitive accounts of SOE operations in Belgium and Holland (which the Germans infiltrated with disastrous results). With his own war service background and academic reputation MRD was an inspired choice for these historic tasks. He was fearless in pursuit of the truth and in thwarting bureaucratic attempts to muzzle him. His war exploits make thrilling reading. His behind-the-lines mission to track down a notorious SD interrogator went badly wrong and he only just escaped with his life. His career has brought him into close contact with an astonishing cast of characters and his tongue-in-cheek account of academic life makes lively reading.

Frequently Bought Together

Memories of an SOE Historian + SOE in France: An Account of the Work of the British Special Operations Executive in France 1940-1944 (Government Official History Series)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Military (16 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844158497
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844158492
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15.5 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Hywel James TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
M R D Foot's "Memories" are highly entertaining. As an historian he pays proper attention to his own family history, as well as offering shrewd, affectionate and often amusing insights into his schooldays and his academic career. The sections dealing with his life during the war are particularly interesting, as is the account of his capture by the Germans in France in 1944, his subsequent serious injury, and his return to Britain. These parts of his book are harrowing and the experience must have enabled Foot to write with particular understanding and insight about the work of clandestine operations in Europe, particularly France, upon which he has become a leading authority.

An immensely interesting, enjoyable and humane book. Highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SOE history 10 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Professor Foot is, of course, the most prolific historian of SOE. In his biography he tells the full story of his research, and the limits and difficulties put up by the "Foreign Office"
A fascinating read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intelligence Master Remembers 16 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover
Too many intelligence historians lack a personal experience in the gritty work of espionage that would validate their research. But Professor M.R.D. Foot, the doyenne of Britain's chroniclers of the SOE commando service during World War II,is one of the exceptions. As we Americans say, he not only "talks the talk, he walked the walk." This memoir includes ripping yarns of his parachuting into France as a member of the SAS Brigade, his capture and various escape attempts from the Nazis. Of equal interest to the intelligence reader are his tales of his often contentious search for detailed truths about the legendary Special Operations Executive that consumed thirty-five years of his life. The resulting books and stacks of magazine articles are a treasure trove that constitute a British national treasury. With dry wit and a lucid writing style, Foot's memoir is as enjoyable as a long luncheon table discourse would be. Read and enjoy!
James Srodes, Author
Allen Dulles, Master of Spies
Washington, DC
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Memoirs of the other `Michael Foot' 11 Mar 2012
Format:Hardcover
MRD Foot is the other `Michael Foot', that is not the former leader of the Labour Party and Friend of Nye Bevan. However, the life of this other Foot is no less interesting, or eventful, than his many times removed cousin. However, what this book has in adventure, it more than makes up for in constant name dropping and an overlong (and pointlessly lengthy) excursus into his family's back- history which makes parts of it a painful struggle, rather than a joy to read. Yet again it is one of those books which screams out for a good/ capable editor.

MRD's life in the war time intelligence community is interesting and revealing - in his other works he was not afraid of slaughtering a few holy SOE cows along the way - it has only in the latter part of the twentieth century that the intelligence services (both military and civilian) became professionalised, rather than being the playgrounds of the rich and/ or eccentric. However, my interest lies with his life outside of the war, which is equally interesting and revealing. His life in academia and the Foreign Office make for interesting reading (Whitehall paper-battles, fought between departments and agencies are often more fierce than those fought with weapons and the effects equally as devastating, just not physically so).

Unfortunately, as with many autobiographies I have read recently (that of Tam Dalyell springs immediately to mind), too much time is spent name-dropping that it becomes difficult to work out who many of the dramatis personae were, or why they should be considered so important within the wider narrative, especially when many have `walk-on' parts.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Okay... 10 Jan 2012
By 101 Recondo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Well the most striking atribute regarding this book so far is that it has a pretty cool SOE looking cover..The contents inside do not relate to the SOE except for the chapters toward the end...The included photos are mostly personal family photos with a couple of exceptions.

He does cover his military service during the Battle of Britain and a short stint with the SAS in France after D-Day.
His random capture by the Germans and attempted escapes left me thinking that this guy had no luck!
If you are looking for a wealth of 'secret insight' into the SOE this may not be the book for you.
Later in his life he did get to participate in many reunion events both in England and on the Continent.

I like his writing style in his other books that are about the SOE and find them to be very good.
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