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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book that came in from the Cold
This book starts with the origins of the intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic and focuses on the somewhat generous amount of luck that made Britain's intelligence services the partner of choice for the USA.
There is much said of the origin of the special relationship as well as its ups, down, rise and fall.
Much detail is given about the cold war...
Published 17 months ago by Mr. Stephen Redman

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SINGLE SPIES AND BATTALIONS
What with Mr Assange, Mr Snowden and Mr/Ms Manning, spies are very much in the news in 2013, so this book ought to catch the tide. I found it absorbing, and I can recommend it from several standpoints. The author is an acknowledged academic expert with a thorough grasp of the history of espionage in America and the UK, he obviously enjoys a good story and he recounts some...
Published 16 months ago by DAVID BRYSON


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SINGLE SPIES AND BATTALIONS, 10 Sept. 2013
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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What with Mr Assange, Mr Snowden and Mr/Ms Manning, spies are very much in the news in 2013, so this book ought to catch the tide. I found it absorbing, and I can recommend it from several standpoints. The author is an acknowledged academic expert with a thorough grasp of the history of espionage in America and the UK, he obviously enjoys a good story and he recounts some of the racier episodes very readably. He is also (to my own way of thinking) fair-minded although conservatives may sense some hauteur and distaste in his depiction of their icons such as Mr Reagan and Mr Bush of Baghdad. More significantly still, he can thread his way through the tangled and jealous relations between American and British intelligence establishments without letting either patriotism or undue deference to the other party confuse his judgment or his narrative. Another thing he is certainly able to do is keep a story uncomplicated, but I felt, all the same, that some episodes were hardly recognisable as the contentious issues I once knew after being stripped down to the ex-cathedra simplifications of Professor Jeffreys-Jones. Is this really all there was to the Valerie Plame episode, for instance? Why on earth did I find it unintelligible at the time, if so? To this day I have never straightened out in my mind what was the real intelligence supplied to Tony Blair that provided the ostensible pretext for the Iraq war of 2003. I don't blame myself for that, as I don't suppose for one moment that Mr Blair and Mr Campbell wanted me or anyone else to be clear about the matter. They knew how to arrange that, even down to the masterly selection of a bumbling old judge to conduct an interminable enquiry and produce a report that managed to divert the spotlight on to total but helpful irrelevancies. These days the summation `dodgy dossier' has stuck, and rightly so, as far as I can tell; but maybe we could have done with Professor Jeffreys-Jones to put all our minds right years ago with bolts of effortless insight.

Strangely, my main experience after reading this book was that I had to ask myself `What have I just been reading?' Like the British weather and the Post Office in some recent tv advertising, this book does lots of different things. It tells the separate stories of the British and American secret services: it describes their tortuous and constantly changing relationship: it goes beyond the topic of gathering and analysing intelligence into that of political action, and for the very good reason that so did the CIA with increasing frequency. At the end the author, very reasonably, extends his scope by discussing the attempts by the EU to create its own intelligence service, and he finds the activities of the EU police force inseparable from this. I don't quarrel with this last feature, because the main story earlier could never be restricted to the intelligence services strictly so-called either, but had to take account at times of military, naval and police assertion of their own interests in the area of intelligence and the uses they could put it to. Nor do I quarrel with the breadth of the author's agenda. What I do think is that he has bitten off more than he could really chew as an author and that the book needs drastic revision in a second edition.

I mean, where do we end up regarding the core topic of the relationship between the US and UK intelligence services? There have been plenty of insightful observations all the way through, but at the end it all rather peters out in a way that I found disappointing. I had wanted a summary, I needed generalisation, but nothing doing. Indeed, the book ends with a whimper after a rather half-hearted chapter on the current state of the European intelligence project, a discussion which was only a bit of an addendum anyway. The problem is not the amount of material nor even its breadth of scope, it is that this clever professor could have done with a more active and assertive editor to organise his thoughts and their presentation. There are a few errors that will doubtless be sorted out in a reprint before any substantial revision takes place - e.g. in 1971 Harold Wilson was leader of the opposition and Edward Heath was prime minister, not the other way about as was the case before the 1970 election, and was again in 1974. It may, indeed, be just the year that is wrong in the sentence in question. This is a valuable book, and a reader disposed to take good notes can put together a lot of the overall picture from the author's passing comments in the way I would have liked the author himself to have done for us. What the book really needs (and deserves) is a drastic rewrite, and I don't think that this is an outrageous or unreasonable suggestion. There must be some gifted ghost-writers out there who would relish the task and do it well. Indeed I almost think that if I were a bit younger I might offer to do the job myself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book that came in from the Cold, 16 Aug. 2013
By 
Mr. Stephen Redman (York England) - See all my reviews
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This book starts with the origins of the intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic and focuses on the somewhat generous amount of luck that made Britain's intelligence services the partner of choice for the USA.
There is much said of the origin of the special relationship as well as its ups, down, rise and fall.
Much detail is given about the cold war interactions of the services and also a generous glimpse into Vietnam.
The decline of the 'special relationship' is a key feature of the book as everyone waits for the rise of Europe as an intelligence block.
The fiasco of the weapons of mass destruction issue in Iraq highlights the breakdown of the old order and from there onwards we start to see a greater role for European agencies.
The comprehensive bibliography will empower any reader ... for ever!
This is again a seminal work from the author, and if you like a good spy thriller then this reference work will add weight to the end of your bookcase as it stands alone in the dark. This is not a new subject to the author, who is a past professor of American history (Edinburgh) and who has previously given us major works on the history of the CIA and the FBI. It is this work which will attract those who are not so concerned with US history but are more interested in our own.
An excellent work which will engage all that are interested and quite impress those who are not.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good history of Spying, 25 April 2014
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H. S. Hallam "Sax Hallam" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I quite enjoyed this book which covers the history of spies and especially the special relationship between the UK and USA, the cold war and the later Iraq debacle. This is a pick up and put down book and took me sometime to read, although very revealing and interesting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, though little academic examination of the special relationship, 5 Dec. 2013
By 
Mr. T. COLEMAN "Jesus freak movie geek" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
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Rhodri Jeffereys-Jones' book focuses on the Anglo-American special relationship in terms of intelligence services. Beginning by looking at how these services began from separate origins and developed their close relationship, he also looks how the political special relationship has negatively effected the intelligence relationship (taking Gulf War 2 and the falsified claims of WMDs - as well as the illegal outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative - as his jumping off point). It makes for an interesting read, though a little academic in tone which may. It be to everyone's tastes.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Editing, 29 Nov. 2013
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Mr. William A. A. Kinloch "Efrog" (Wrexham, Wales) - See all my reviews
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It is disappointing - and a comment on modern publishing standards - that an academic publisher such as OUP can allow a book to go to press which, in its first chapter refers to Elizabeth I's spymaster as Sir 'Robert' Walsingham.
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4.0 out of 5 stars In spies we reluctantly must trust - some say, 17 Nov. 2013
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In the wake of leaks of CIA spying on its Western allies, after Edward Snowden's whistle blowing episode, the secret services have returned into the public domain beyond the fictional reviews of William Boyd's attempt at representing Ian Fleming's Bond in Solo Solo: A James Bond Novel. Prof Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones of US History at Edinburgh University has repeatedly underlined the age-old idea that `knowledge is power' either in peacetime or in war in order to prevent or to stimulate further conflicts or stability. Situations become tense and confused if there is any hint, or indeed, a discovery of "dirty tricks" having been carried out.

Predominantly (8 chapters of 11) an account of the "Special" relationship of the US and UK services, general readers might not be incorrect in claiming that it has been a story of bungled missions by one organization or the other, as in the Bay of Pigs affair in the early 1960s, or of enemy agents leading their countries on a merry dance - be it the Cambridge Five, the spy ring of 349 US agents tied to the NKVD just in the Venona operation during the 1940s, or more recently with the arrest of senior CIA officer Aldrich Ames in 1994, or the FBI agent Robert Hanssen in 2001. On the other hand, it is hardly surprising that real successes have not become public knowledge, otherwise the enemy would instantly attempt to dam the leaks, thus making the initial break-in an almost pointless mission. To prove the point, it took over 25 years after the end of World War II before the operators, J.C.Masterman and F.W. Winterbottom, first mentioned code deciphering at Bletchley Park, after which the entire history of the war needed to be completely re-written. It also explains why certain documents are still classified under the old 100 year rule to protect the names of informants and their families.

The history does, however, reveal which of the two was indeed the dominant partner at a certain moment in time, and duly opens a can of worms. Recently it showed that the politicians in the Whitehouse pushed both their US, and the British secret services to "sex-up" the idea of Saddam Hussein's WMD which might be triggered within 45 minutes, when the intelligence agencies knew this to be absurd, simply to justify an invasion for regime change in 2003, to protect oil supplies and corporation profits. No officer proved willing to step into the limelight, and question the inaccuracy of such truth. Rather, the author spills the beans of victims of cover-ups Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.

Thirty years back, in 1975, it seems that the US, or the CIA, in collusion with the Australian ASIO, rather than Britain held the cards in the dismissal of Australian PM Gough Whitlam, as the Labour leader was thought too extreme in demanding more "open government" and curtailing US Listening posts in Australia. Further back, in the 1960s, prior to the independence of British Guiana, an area considered by Washington as within their sphere, Britain refused to question the information and demands of US administrations in not allowing the popular socialist Cheddi Jegan, become the new President, preferring the more corruptible, vain Forbes Burnham. At home, there appears more substance in the growing fears of British Labour PM Harold Wilson, in the late 1960s and 70s, that in the British secret services were operating in cahoots with their US colleagues, and their political string pullers, both to discredit the Government through selected individuals within the Labour movement, and if necessary to oust Labour from power - something recounted in Mullin's fictional account The Very British Coup A Very British Coup. Thus, the idea of "dirty tricks" in Latin America, became the norm, and something justifiable to oblige an incompliant ally to comply in public as the US's loyal lap dog. The US operated in this manner everywhere, whether in France, Italy, Holland, or Germany, anywhere where it saw danger in the form of Reds under the bed - their vision of Soviet inspired national left-wing dissent in direct conflict with honest US imperial hegemony, the angel Gabriel of world democracy.

The historian recounts another theory concerning Suez, why Eden chose not to include Eisenhower, and the US, in his secret plan, and why when the invasion was about to take the normally Anglophile President appeared so angry and disappointed. It was from that date, in 1956, when it became clearer that the Western alliance was not controlled by a duopoly, but a monopoly; something which Jeffreys-Jones tongue in cheek compares with the England & Wales Cricket Board - which includes one nominal Welsh county, but which English cricket fans choose to overlook.

At the start of the century, the situation was very different. Not only does the historian state that that the strings were strongly being pulled from London, and that the British secret services, as certain US novelists felt, may have had a say in dragging the US into the First World War, it is possible to disclaim the British idea that the Luisitania was not carrying arms, and consequently Germany's attack may have been entirely legitimate. Equally, he explains the reason why the great bloodiness of British repression was unfold in Ireland in the wake of the Easter Rising in 1916, since they had reports that Germans and not Irishmen were really behind the Rising. If true, then the role of the leadership of the Irish patriots must be re-examined.

It has been proven that since the 1920s Britain's espionage organization across the Atlantic was quite thorough, making full use of the Irish socialist, James Larkin, and the Jamaican-US radical Marcus Garvey as MI6 agents. The US intelligence agencies seemed embarrassed to learn that the Limies were more informed of US radicalism than they themselves. Furthermore, it had broken the US military codes- indicating already these "special" allies were listening in to one another, and continued to read details until the US entry to war. It is possible that Churchill may purposely have refrained from informing Roosevelt in advance of the Japanese invasion in December 1941, in order to make the isolationist US public to rethink and happily enter the war against Fascism. Can one believe that of Churchill? In love and war, everything becomes acceptable for the "nation's security" and the "nation's good". If it happened once, then why not twice? But did Roosevelt know what Japan was planning. The intelligence documents show he did, and thus he must have been waiting for the green light.

The historian even shows a different vision of the very friendly Woodrow Wilson. The Senate's failure to ratify the utopian idea of open covenants behind the League of Nations is said to have brought US isolationism. To give teeth to the League might have required providing it with an intelligence system. In contrast, Jeffreys-Jones claims a calculating Wilson retaliated against the Republicans by forcing onto them that which they disliked: to expand its own intelligence services first with the FBI and later the CIA. Maybe, if history is read back to front, and effected by a great protagonist.

As expected little has crept into the public domain about the present as letting too many moggies out of the bag would be too dangerous. Instead, the final chapters consist of an examination of the growth of intelligence in the EU -through Europol (described as the "Euro FBI") and INTCEN, as well as in the UN. As expected though, just as Britain in the early 20th century was unwilling to supply all intelligence to its special ally, the US now will only share if it feels it will be to its benefit. It has no quarrels with the EU because it is still relatively powerless globally; but with the expansion of the UN to include decolonised states, the US no longer is the cornerstone; rather, according to the historian it has actually behaved obstructively towards that organization and to the international community: first by ignoring the recommendations of Hans Blix on WMD before the Iraq invasion; next by dissociating itself from the International Criminal Court, and in particular with Bush's suspension in 2002 of US compliance with the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POWs for all Al Qaeda "fighters". Strong words. To the outside world being an old partner of US turns poor little Britain into an equally untrustworthy specimen.

The relationship appears dead walking when the US is prepared to undertake brief bilateral partnerships first with Pakistan, then with India, and always with Israel and Mossad and then expect a listening with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. The world has become much more complicated since 1989. The Anglo-Saxon relationship it is believed will survive because both partners know too much of one another, and divorce will prove to be too harmful to each and all. But just as no marriage is cemented in stone, there is always a possibility in future of continual independence with extra-marital liaisons with other lively partners, of separation, divorce, and maybe re-marriage. So why worry about this time enduring marriage? Peace or War, that is the question.

Written in an almost official style Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones opens many windows for discussion. If spies are of the James Bond breed they seem adventurous, and heroic; they are those we love to trust. They're not all Brosnans, Connerys, Craigs, or Moores. After these revelations can Americans trust one another, and can we Brits, too? So, not "In spies we trust" spies, should become "In spies we reluctantly must trust". The book is highly recommended to regular readers of the Guardian.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Spies Like Us, 17 Oct. 2013
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Mr. M. A. Reed (Argleton, GB) - See all my reviews
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In the post-Snowden age, the roles of spies is somewhat redundant in the traditional sense. Who needs a Stasi that sit opposite your house and record your every move when there's a small device in your pocket (or on your lap) that will do almost all of it for them? In this respect this definitive work travels quickly as a historical artifact detailing a new near-obselete method of spying, charting the rise and fall of the traditional John le Carre world, and does so in an accessable, easy style - occasionally skipping over detail, but leaving no stone unturned, as such. It read as if condensed from a much larger work, for almost each of the stories inside this is worthy a novel in its own right, offering a fascinating - but as hinted at the forward mentioning the redacted tale of Valerie Plume - glimpse and nothing more, and one probably with many deleted scenes hidden in the authors hard drive. By its nature of the subject matter, this is not likely to be the full subject matter or the full tale, but it is a wide text that attempts the near impossible tale of covering the enormous world of spying and manages to tell the tale comprehensively.
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3.0 out of 5 stars In spies we trust, 27 Sept. 2013
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An interesting book for today's history students but for those of us who lived in these times as myself, I think would find it rather boring.
The writer seemed fond of naming names of important people in powerful and political positions rather than some good exciting adventures of what out spied were up to around the world. Maybe though it was better not to admit too much.
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4.0 out of 5 stars In Spies we Trust, 25 Sept. 2013
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I enjoyed this book as ever since Spycatcher by Peter Wright in the late 1980's I have been interested in the subject of spies and spying. If you have a fascination for the world of George Smiley, this would be an excellent companion to that genre, or if you are interested in the in-depth history of western intelligence you will find a lot to interest you. This book is published by the Oxford University Press, so it is a well-researched scholarly work. It is not a light gossipy page turner, however Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones writes with a lightness of touch that stops you getting bogged down in facts, and the book is not too dry and scholarly for the general reader. I don't remember all the names and dates mentioned in this book, but there were enough good stories and anecdotes to keep me interested.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed but dry account of the development of and interaction between UK and US intelligence services, 22 Sept. 2013
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David Burton "aenikata" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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An ever-popular topic is spies and espionage. Pulp thrillers over the last century have regularly plumbed these concepts to present a glossy, exciting world full of action and intrigue. This presents a very different picture. Little gloss or glamour - its extent limited mainly to the privileged backgrounds of many of those recruited to the various agencies, the picture presented is far more of a number of agencies mistrusting one another, sometimes grudgingly working with one another while trying to better the others. The shifting interest, funding, organisation and balance of power through early years, 2 world wars and on to recent years is laid out.
However, the author seems determined to highlight the superiority of American intelligence services along with its economic and military power, while decrying British intelligence as infiltrated by foreign agents, prone to arrogance and elitism, and limited in resources. When looking at European efforts, the comparison is also with the FBI and CIA, and again the tone favours the US efforts. The author (perhaps unsurprisingly given his academic background) seems much more able to provide detail about US efforts, and it's hard to be sure (given many assertions are not backed up by concrete proof) whether there is a clear US superiority in espionage efforts, or whether there is a bias on the part of the author.
This question might be ignorable given that US espionage is unquestionably an important part of the global picture, but the tone is quite dry. Devoid of romanticism and literary craft, this is a factual exploration of the various agencies covering over 100 years of espionage. Its detail perhaps suffers there, giving only brief notes towards some of the issues affecting the service, and only limited detail about a limited number of successes, preferring to outline the progression over time. Better anecdotes and justification of assertions of superiority would have rendered this a more readable and interesting text on what seems to have been a subject about which the author knows a lot, and one which is of interest to many.
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In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence
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