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The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security [Paperback]

Richard Tomlinson , Nick Fielding
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 2001
Richard Tomlinson was recruited initially by MI6, the British foreign intelligence service, during his senior year at Cambridge University. In these memoirs, he claims to have quickly gained the trust and confidence of one of the world's most effective intelligence organizations, and that he was relied on to smuggle nuclear secrets out of Moscow. Tomlinson also writes that he ran an undercover operation in Sarajevo while the city was under siege, and infiltrated and dismantled a criminal group that sought to export chemical weapons capabilities to Iran. Four years after joining MI6, Tomlinson's career was abruptly halted. Attempting to fight a case for unjust dismissal, Tomlinson was arrested for breaking the Official Secrets Act and imprisoned. He was subsequently released.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cutting Edge Press; 1st edition (1 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0732270944
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903813010
  • ASIN: 1903813018
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 290,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ex mi6 officer fights back 2 Feb 2005
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I loved it. There are 2 main parts to this book. First Tomlinsons recruitment,training and operations as an mi6 officer. Secondly his sacking and subsequent conflict with mi6. This second part(the final 1/3 of the book) didn't interest me. We outsiders don't know the reason for his sacking,we'd need to hear both sides of the story. The interesting part for me was the description of mi6 structure and organization in the 1990s(I'd read books describing mi6 structure from the 50s and 60s but this was the most up to date from an insider), the 6 month training course as well as operations. The mi6 officers he names are obviously pseudonyms but many were name in the infamous internet list(including the personnel officer hated by Tomlinson). Tomlinson denied being responsible for it and some commentators said it was flawed. As the number of MI6 officers writing books about current events doesn't happen every day,I recommend it,judge for yourself.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abuse of power and influence by the MI6 ? 8 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Nearly everything the public knows about spies is fiction. But Richard Tomlinson worked for the MI6 until he was fired for unknown reasons. According to the author, MI6 hunted him down all over the planet when he following tried to write an autobiography. They used and abused their connections with foreign intelligence services for intimidation purposes, stole his equipment, and had him imprisoned for several months. When the book was in the press despite MI6's vast efforts to prevent it, they took legal action to ban it. They failed spectacularly, and "The Big Breach" became freely available. Contrary to what many would believe, no government secrets are exposed in the book, and the few descriptions of MI6's working methods can surprise no one. The really interesting aspects of the book are an intriguing claim about a top UK politician, secret Serb donations to a British political party, and the degree of unfair treatment by the MI6, combined with alleged incompetence in personnel management. Countless claims and counterclaims have been made about the book. One such claim is that the Russian publisher is really a cover for what was formerly known as KGB, and that they have written sections of the book. An obvious counterclaim is that the MI6 have orchestrated a smear campaign to discredit the book and its author. Whatever the truth, here's a spy story that is as close to reality as we'll probably ever get.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book gives a glimpse of MI6 24 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book reads easily and is never boring. I like the way he describes (with great humor) some events that he had experienced.
I wonder what he's doing nowadays.
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4.0 out of 5 stars riveting 24 July 2012
Format:Paperback
This is a well written, revealing account of M16, in the days when the agency was still mired in the self defeating secrecy of the Cold War. Tomlinson portrays an organisation of suffocating bureaucracy, snobbery, laziness, internal bickering and inefficiency; it is more Yes Minister than James Bond. This might not be wholly fair - there must, surely, have been Bond like figures, SAS crossed with Oxbridge Firsts - but Tomlinson does not appear to have met them. Overall, a fascinating book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but is it true? 20 Aug 2012
By Lutobar
Format:Paperback
The first half is full of titillating (although by now surely out-of date)detail about the inner-workings of MI6. The second half is Tomlinson's justification for this gratuitous spilling of the beans, which is that in spite of being quite literally the best recruit they'd ever had, MI6 personnel decided to sack him for unknown but certainly trumped-up reasons. His account of how he was persecuted by MI6 merely for wanting to have his dismissal looked at by an employment tribunal is a drawn-out martyrdom. His only way of hitting back is to write a best-selling book.

Is it true? That is anyone's guess, but anyone who can write as well as this is capable of fabrication, and to me his story of consummate hero to utter zero looks too good (or bad) to be true. The self-justification becomes tiresome. There is obviously more to this than meets the eye; those who could enlighten us cannot.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking to think this really happened! 2 July 2001
Format:Paperback
I have just finished the book desparately wanting to meet Richard Tomlinson and spend a good few hours discussing the contents of this book. It is both shocking and revealing and demonstrates how unfettered taxpayer funded organisations answerable to no one can persue their own private and ego driven campaigns with such venum, unchecked.
I began the book thinking that he was a lttile niave and should have just gone with the flow, but the subsequent hypocrisy and blatant use of MI6 power to hound and discredit him was both shocking and disturbing.
All large organisations have, by their very nature an element of politics/backstabbing/manipulation but this was taking it to the extreme and is a worrying enditement on the so called 'secret services'
A book I could not put down and one that has really affected my attitude.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Account of the Abuse of Power 7 Mar 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I found this book gripping, and very disturbing. The first half of the
book charts the author's career in Britain's Secret Intelligence
Service (MI6). Tomlinson's description of his MI6 training is
fascinating, and often amusing. On completion of his training, the
author serves in Moscow and Bosnia. As Tomlinson is a former member of
the Territorial SAS (volunteer branch of the UK special forces), one
would expect him to keep a clear head in a war zone and, indeed, his
activities in Bosnia in 1993-94 testify to his personal courage and
professional commitment.
While serving in Bosnia, Tomlinson is
involved in an operation in which a British army Land Rover rolls over
into a ditch. No one is hurt, and the mission is not compromised, but
Tomlinson's silk tie is destroyed during the subsequent attempt to
restart the engine. Consequently, he is obliged to meet a group of
VIPs wearing an open-necked shirt. Despite the broad success of his
mission to Bosnia, the open-necked shirt incident earns him a bad
performance appraisal on his return to London.
Later, while working
to infiltrate a plot to sell chemical weapons manufacturing equipment
to Iran, Tomlinson is fired by MI6, with no warning and no
explanation. Yet he has received fulsome praise from his new manager
for his work on the chemical weapons project, and cannot understand
why he has been fired. The second half of the book describes
Tomlinson's attempts to discover the reason for his dismissal and take
MI6 to an employment tribunal, and MI6's heavy handed campaign to
resist this...The book is poorly edited and contains numerous typographical
errors that should have been caught by even the most cursory
proof-reading. Nevertheless, it makes compelling and disturbing
reading, and deserves a five-star rating.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The more we know the better
Richard Tomlinson's autobiographical account of his time at MI6 and subsequent dismissal and persecution by these henchmen of the state is a welcome addition to the non-fiction... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Michael Oswald
3.0 out of 5 stars Weak plot
The book was not particularly interesting. There was more than a little self promotion in order to build a character that the reader was asked to symathise with and this tainted... Read more
Published on 16 Nov 2006 by Anonymous, for good reason
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read
There's no doubt Mr. Tomlinson is an intelligent, articulate man who writes very well. The book is evenly paced with a lot of interesting events and details. Read more
Published on 30 Jun 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big MI6 Breach.
Richard Tomlinson is an ordinary bloke in an ordinary world, he is highly intelligent and so gets admitted to Cambridge university, there he studies engineering and has a sought... Read more
Published on 28 Mar 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Tomlinson was born to be a spy, or so he thinks....
According to this book, Tomlinson was born to be a spy and work at MI6. Nothing else would stimluate his enormous brain enough. Read more
Published on 16 Feb 2002 by paulcurrid@hotmail.com
3.0 out of 5 stars Another White Elephant
Tomlinson's book confirms much of what those who have previously read Rusbridger's "The Intelligence Game" might have suspected: here is a world composed largely of incompetent and... Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars Says more about the author than MI6
... Those who would have been the first to doubt Tomlinson's word while he was working for MI6 fall over themselves to accept it when he has left. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2001
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