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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This is a brilliant expose of an out of control and quite frankly amoral Special Branch unit. On the whole, the people they spied on appear to have been harmless: hippies, environmental campaigners, etc. Ok, so some animal rights people were dangerous, a few on the left perhaps, and the Nazis like Combat 18 (though the book barely touches on SDS or NPOIU officers who...
Published 22 months ago by The JBP

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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Manufactured Outrage; Manufactured Dissent
[Originally published on Amazon.com]

This is a book that promises much, but fails to deliver. When it does deliver, it leaves one thinking 'quelle surprise': nasty people, doing nasty things in secret places - so what? (The 'so what' relates to the fact that this book concentrates wholly on description, leaving out any form of analysis or proposal of how things...
Published 23 months ago by J Whitgift


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 18 Aug. 2013
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This is a brilliant expose of an out of control and quite frankly amoral Special Branch unit. On the whole, the people they spied on appear to have been harmless: hippies, environmental campaigners, etc. Ok, so some animal rights people were dangerous, a few on the left perhaps, and the Nazis like Combat 18 (though the book barely touches on SDS or NPOIU officers who infiltrated the right). However, the vast majority of resources appear to have been spent on climate campaigners, vegans and suchlike. But the most shocking thing is the systematic way officers had long term relationships with female campaigners and fathered kids with them. The authors are very good at drawing out the similarities so that officers would routinely fake mental breakdowns or say they were on the run from the police before disappearing from these women's lives (and of course any kids they had fathered). So similar were the officer's methods of escaping from these relationships that it seems impossible to conclude that they were not instructed in how to do it. This book is important and definitely well worth a read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 14 Dec. 2013
By 
P Carr (NW Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Books like this need to be written - and read. There's something deeply wrong with a regime that uses undercover police to infiltrate mostly harmless groups, along the way having deceitful relationships with target women, even to the extent of fathering children whilst having their own families that they spend time with throughout.

These people should be prosecuted, and particularly those in charge who set it up, rather than retiring with nice fat pensions.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking expose of the UKs very own KGB, 22 July 2013
By 
Mark J. Fitzpatrick "oblivion71" (brighton UK) - See all my reviews
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Even the stasi were content to merely listen in on people. Britain's secret state police went one stage further and moved in with the enemy,even starting families with some of them.this is a gripping account of the lengths the state will go to harass vegetarians and other such threats to society. This story should be unbelievable fiction. But it isn't.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blowing the Lid on Another Dirty Secret, 5 July 2013
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This book certainly makes for disturbing reading. Especially after the revelations regarding the police and their attempts to undermine the family of racist murder victim Stephen Lawrence. The sheer volume of effort and expense that's gone into these operations is staggering - not only for the fact that much of the actions carried out by people like Environmental protesters, could have been policed under public order legislation (admitted by undercover cop Mark Kennedy) - but also the weird, grey moral area that these undercover officers more often than not decided to step into. Outright criminal acts, destroying the lives of women they became involved with (and the children they fathered with them). All makes for uncomfortable truths.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth behind the headlines, 20 July 2013
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Like most people I was shocked by recent newspaper headlines about police spies infiltrating peaceful protest groups, starting relationships, ruining lives and then returning to their normal life as if nothing had happened. I wondered how we had allowed this kind of police spying to happen in this country. This book tells you how. By turns shocking, gripping and also surprisingly funny this book lifts the lid on the Special Demonstration Squad and its successors. A terrible indictment of the Met Police and one of the best books I've read this year.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sobering if unsurprising, 19 Aug. 2013
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I haven't read other books about the SDS and wanted to read this one in the wake of the news coverage of Mark Kennedy's exposure as an undercover policeman. Since so little is known about the SDS compared to organisations such as MI5, for instance, with various books and general public exposure of the organisation in the last twenty years, it is hard to judge the accuracy of this book. An awful lot of the material is allegations, and the messiness of several of the deployments along the lines of Kennedy mean that reports from those involved are often highly emotional.

I take another reviewer's point about the authors taking aim at one particular officer - Bob Lambert - and talking about him less than dispassionately, and that same reviewer also mentions a lack of analysis beyond and behind the events, which I also noticed as I was reading. For all the relaying of information, there is no discussion of any real advantages of the SDS or similar security services and there seems to be an implicit assumption that any covert activities by the state are inherently bad.

That said, as an outsider's chronicle of the SDS from its early days onwards it seems fairly comprehensive and is quick to pose what the authors see as the problems of this unit's operations: the morality of deceiving people on an intimate level because they happen to belong to a movement; the wisdom of spending taxpayers' money on infiltrating groups which are transparently peaceful; the decreasing accountability of covert work generally and the lengths allowed these officers in terms of violent action in order to prove their activist credentials. Conversely, the authors also bring up the long-term effects on the officers in the field, some of whom have had mental health issues as a result of their work. Rogue officers, of-course, are in a position to pose a distinct threat to their former colleagues and bosses, leading, it appears, to much macho jockeying and, if all else fails, more taxpayers' money in settlements. There is also mention of the somewhat strange attitude to selection, training and support of these spies. The men (and it is mostly men) may have physical and mental toughness, but they are essentially under sustained pressure in a potentially hostile environment with, perhaps, a lack of emotional maturity.

A great deal is also made of the psychological and emotional trauma suffered by the activists who have had (failed) relationships with undercover officers, and I am not disputing the injustice of their situation, but nothing is mentioned of the officers' original families. Were the partners willingly colluding in their other halves' double lives? It seems unlikely where children are involved, although if the person you share your life with is absent around the clock for five or six days per week you might wonder whether they were sharing elsewhere.

Ultimately the existence of the SDS brings to the fore serious questions about our society, and about the conflicting priorities of security and freedom, which have never been far from the world's consciousness, especially after 9/11. What is justifiable to protect the social fabric? What is the social fabric? And what are the threats? Terrorism and war aside, there is once again escalating public concern about the environment, animal welfare and big business, from the so-called McLibel case to energy companies' fracking activity. Should the state be undermining protest? This book makes those questions explicit, but it would be too much to expect it to have any of the answers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a disturbing read!, 14 Jan. 2014
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A very well written book that left me wanting more. Some very disturbing information in this book - how many of us know that the Association of Chief Police officers is a private limited company? I certainly didn't! I would recommend anyone who cares about the preservation of democracxy in the UK to read this book. And then become an activist!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 2 Jun. 2014
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Intriguing, interesting and at times shocking. The lengths the State will go to to pursue protestors. A must read book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrifying and amazing, brilliant., 18 April 2014
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This is absolutely riveting - and horrifying. I kept stopping and saying - 'Did I actually just read what I think I did?' Astonishing - I couldnt put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read!, 17 Mar. 2014
By 
Bannon (Carmarthenshire) - See all my reviews
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Oh my word what a brilliant and well written book!
I knew things were bad but this is a gob smacking exposé of some rather nasty police tactics.
Read it, really.
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Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police
Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police by Rob Evans (Paperback - 6 Mar. 2014)
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