Customer Reviews


16 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ex mi6 officer fights back
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...
Published on 2 Feb 2005 by Amazon Customer

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but is it true?
The first half is full of titillating (although by now surely out-of date)detail about the inner-workings of MI6.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...
Published on 20 Aug 2012 by Lutobar


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more we know the better, 16 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
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 secret service genre. We know so little about what these gangs are really up to or how they operate, if only there were more people with the moral conviction and courage to come forward to expose them.

The story of Richard Tomlinson's persecution succinctly demonstrates the small minded and petty mindset of security services in general. They are quite happy to hound an individual to the end of the earth, rather than make the slightest compromise. This "we are always right" attitude can remain only because they are not accountable to anyone for their actions. At one point in the book an MI6 trainee asks, "is there anything we can't do?" the answer to which is apparently, "no, you can do whatever you want, just don't get caught." Remarkable!

Anyone wishing to join MI6 should exhibit the following character traits: Vanity, extroversion, criminal mindedness, cowardice, chronic liar and of course lets not forget the ability to deceive yourself that you are non of the aforementioned.

"The Big Breach," is to a large part autobiographical, for a more technical account of the to's and throw's of secret services, I would recommend Annie Machon's book "Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers." Both of these books are over ten years old, and both individuals have been out of the secret services for almost twenty years, it's about time we had another contemporary whistleblowing author from MI5, MI6 or Army Intelligence.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Story of Suspense and Persecution, 26 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
A great read if you have some spare time and are interested in the Intelligence Services. Richard doesn't whine about MI6 until about page 200, so there is a lot more to the book than this! Gives you a sense of not wanting to get on the wrong side of MI6, but then again if no-one else will fight for reasonable freedon of speech, then who will?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another White Elephant, 1 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
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 precious halfwitted bureaucrats pretending to be adventurers or diplomats or both...as for the author's own "adventures", from what one sees in this book, they are less interesting and, indeed, less perilous than many of us have experienced simply travelling and working around the world and, unlike this lot, not on the money of the hard-pressed downtrodden British taxpayer (the guy who commutes on the Tube to make £20,000 a year pre-tax and probably sincerely believes the sort of rubbish pumped out by the popular press about the need for "national security"). At least Tomlinson, whatever the real reasons for his dismissal (perhaps he was unwilling to play at useless "mice games" as the Russians term make-work activity) has been honest enough to break clear...

ADDENDUM: upon rereading the book some years later, I find that I still agree with my first review, above, but some other points do come to mind. I see why he was of interest to MI6, in that he was intelligent, fit and, interestingly, looks rather un-English, which makes me think he has some non-British ancestry somewhere. Many supposed British intelligence people always have had that, such as Philby, who was part Indian (paternal grandmother). However, as other reviewers noted, Tomlinson seems a little naive, not least in assuming that he could just pop back into France again for a bit of skiing after his earlier detention. And he has retained a touching faith in the activities of his previous employment. There again, if a young man of 21 or 22 is inducted into a secret organization as one of only seven or eight so chosen (although there seems to have been a high degree of SELF-selection in his case: he knew where to apply, even if informally), one can see that it might go a bit to the head of a young would-be adventurer.

The author and indeed the whole organization seem to have taken the pathetic James Bond books and films literally. The training included firing thousands of rounds from pistols, submachineguns etc, even though MI6 officers rarely carry even small handguns and even more rarely (Tomlinson says never, presumably referring to the post-1945 period) use them. He says that training and the boy-racer car driving was to build up confidence. Bizarre. Whatever happened to the grey men? Anyone who wants a laugh can take a look around the Tate Gallery in late morning and then cross the road on the Embankment across the river from the new SIS head office building: the office staff seem to jog in a quadrilateral over and back across the nearby bridges (Vauxhall and Southwark)and along that embankment every weekday lunchtime. One cannot imagine their deceased --and also their most educated and intelligent-- one-time Chief, Sir Maurice Oldfield (think "Owl meets Cheshire Cat") wasting his time doing that...or being physically able to do it!

Also, the MI6 organization, like that of the Civil Service as a whole, seems to have come down untouched from a WW2 world of officers and other ranks. Why? The US Government have simply a table of about 23 or 24 ranks (similar to the 14 ranks of Peter the Great's administration), no classes or streams.

I was also struck by the author's time at Belmarsh Prison, built at huge expense to be ultra high security, but used also for those convicted of petty crimes in SE London. What an (other) incredible waste of public money.

The reason why he was sacked seems opaque at best. I wonder if, really, he is just one of those people who, through no or no very great fault of their own, seem to be touchstones for the careerists and backbiters in office politics? I'm a lot like that myself, come to think of it lol! But I was never in MI6 or I'd be living on a yacht on the Riviera too...damn it, I really lost out there!

The publishers obviously rushed the book onto the shelves without editing or proofing it properly, as another reviewer here notes. Or is it that Tomlinson really does think that the "granny spy" was Melissa Norwood and not the correct MELITA Norwood (she was half-Latvian, a fact which MI5 and also MI6 counter-intelligence seem either to have missed or thought unimportant, thus allowing her to spy for decades)? If Tomlinson simply remembered the name wrongly, perhaps he was sacked for carelessness, though that seems odd in view of the general lack of tautness about MI6's publicly known products, such as the WMD "Dodgy Dossier"...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in parts, 1 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
An interesting insight into the work of the Secret Service. However, it is tempered by Richard's constant whine about his treatment at the hands of MI6. To be honest, by the end of the book I was almost in sympathy with MI6.
To sum up; an entertaining read although the style is grating and an absolute must for anyone from Oxbridge who is thinking of a career with the Secret Service.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weak plot, 16 Nov 2006
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
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 the supposed factual material about MI6 activities in the book. The pungent hypocricy became evident in the latter part of the book. Mr Tomlinson was happy to work from within a powerful organisation and loved his work bribing and deceiving foreign nationals to betray their countrymen. Why then should he complain when that same beast is trained on him? The account of the attempts to silence Tomlinson were quite interesting and it was surprising how a trained MI6 officer could be so gullible.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Says more about the author than MI6, 9 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
... 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. This suggests that they rather unintelligently suspend their critical judgment when anyone objurgates the intelligence services. This is not to say that Tomlinson is deliberately lying (though sacking him would give him a motive to do so). Rather, his perceptions are likely to be clouded. Some of what he says may be accurate, but by no means all. Unfortunately, this book is another in the long list of rubbish that has been written about the special services (and, alas, often believed for several years), primarily by those who want to believe anything bad about them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security
The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security by Richard Tomlinson (Paperback - 1 Feb 2001)
Used & New from: £0.61
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews