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The Secret History of S.O.E.: Special Operations Executive 1940-1945 [Paperback]

William Mackenzie
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Dec 2002
At the end of World War II, the Cabinet Office commissioned an eminent academic, Professor William Mackenzie, to undertake a comprehensive secret history of Special Operations Executive. Given access to both personnel and the surviving wartime files, Mackenzie's report was a reference document to be used by intelligence agencies in a future conflict, its audience the very elite of Whitehall insiders. Now, this highly classified account has been made available. Never before have SOE's operations across the world been described in such detail and with total authority. Mackenzie's document explores numerous controversies and reveals dozens of previously undisclosed episodes from Britain's secret war against the Axis. Who were the agents parachuted in Germany? What became of schemes designed to protect Gibraltar from a Spanish invasion? Why did so many circuits suffer enemy penetration? When did SOE decide to collaborate with the NKVD and infiltrate Soviet spies into Eastern Europe? These and other wartime mysteries are packed into one of the most controversial documents of our time.

Product details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: St Ermin's Press (5 Dec 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903608112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903608111
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Remarkable..not only an outstanding history, but a document without which there can be no proper understanding of SOE, of European reistance and, arguably, of the origins of that sense of European identity now manifested in the EU' - Alan Judd, Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Professor William Mackenzie spent three years writing the official war history of SOE for the Cabinet Office. He was later Professor of Government at the Universities of Manchester and Glasgow, and was Emeritus Professor of Politics at Glasgow until his death in 1996.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The year 1938 opened in an atmosphere which stimulated discussion of revolution and subversive warfare. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional History of SOE in Europe 18 May 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a whopping big book of over 750 pages in the main text plus quite a few appendices which covers the fortune of Special Operations Executive which was the British Secret Service charged with formenting subversion during the Second World War. However, it is well worth the effort and is an exceptional piece of writing which gives an excellent overview of SOE at both the political level, and also its operations in Europe. Although written just after the war, it has only recently been released as it was classified SECRET. Some passages are still censored.
This history has been used as a source for some of the better SOE histories written since 1949, and it acts as an excellent source of material for any historian of the period. The Foreword and notes by Professor Foot are also of particular interest as supplementary comment.
Highly recommended.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed and Unromanticised 6 May 2003
If you are looking for stories of heroic deeds and adventures of the Special Operations Executives, then this book isn't for you.
What gives you is an incredible detailed account of the people, the politics and realities of SOE. The book explains on how the SOE developed, how they trained their agents and how they organised partisan resistance in the fields.
The author provides a very unbiased and unromanticised account on the most seeming glamorous and adventurous part of the british war effort.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars lasare 31 July 2012
By lasare - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fascinating account on the formation & operation of the secret service. This is an inclusive text book and not a novel, so tends to be a 'dry tome' in parts but I found it a very interesting history and recommend it to anybody similarly interested in this period.
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