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The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 Paperback – 3 Jun 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1072 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 1st Edition Thus edition (3 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141023309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141023304
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

“Penetrating. . . . Inestimably valuable. . . . Fills in a chapter of history that has been unjustly neglected.”
—"The New York Times Book Review"
“Fascinating and instructive. . . . As complete and thorough as such a history may be and as engrossing as any spy novel.”
—"Los Angeles Times"
“Unprecedented. . . . Weighty, measured and compelling. . . . With this book, the author has done a formidably good job for both the service and the public interest.”
—Max Hastings, "The Sunday Times" (London)
“As gripping as any thriller. . . . Throws new light on an important area of the running of the country, analysing the changing threats to national security over the 100 years and discussing the appropriateness or otherwise of the service’s response. . . . It will be enthusiastically scrutinised by historians, intelligence buffs and conspiracy theorists.”
—Stella Rimington, "Financial Times

"Penetrating. . . . Inestimably valuable. . . . Fills in a chapter of history that has been unjustly neglected."
--"The New York Times Book Review"
"Fascinating and instructive. . . . As complete and thorough as such a history may be and as engrossing as any spy novel."
--"Los Angeles Times"
"Unprecedented. . . . Weighty, measured and compelling. . . . With this book, the author has done a formidably good job for both the service and the public interest."
--Max Hastings, "The Sunday Times" (London)
"As gripping as any thriller. . . . Throws new light on an important area of the running of the country, analysing the changing threats to national security over the 100 years and discussing the appropriateness or otherwise of the service's response. . . . It will be enthusiastically scrutinised by historians, intelligence buffs and conspiracy theorists."
--Stella Rimington, "Financial Times"
"Tantalizing. . . . Meticulous and extensive. . . . This book is unlikely to be surpassed for another 100 years, and until then will be the necessary starting point for anyone who wants to know what, exactly, MI5 is."
--"The Daily Telegraph "(London)
"A tour de force: a dazzlingly detailed account. . . . Andrew [is] remarkably candid."
--"Tulsa World"
"Andrew has demonstrated why he is considered by most of his peers to be the world's leading intelligence scholar. His mastery of sources and ability to write so clearly is second to none."
--"The Raleigh News & Observer"
"Magisterial, authoritative, balanced, readable. . . . MI5 has been well-served by this history and so have future historians, Service staff and the public in general."
--"The Sunday Telegraph" (London)
"[This] book covers everything. . . . It is a striking experiment in openness."
--"Economist"
"Absolutely fascinating. . . . A sweeping and highly readable account of a century of British intelligence."
--"The Washington Times"
"Clearly written, brilliantly organised and extremely readable, not least because of something [Andrew] shares with many of MI5's staff over the past hundred years--a sense of humour."
--"The Times" (London)
"There are plenty of fresh details about celebrated events, behind-the-scenes tidbits about successes and foibles, and dish about infamous people. . . . It's crack for history and spy agency addicts."
--Gerald Posner, "The Daily Beast"
"A ripping read and just the kind of work one would hope for from a well-qualified academic who has been given the run of MI5's treasure-trove of files."
--"The""Guardian "(London)
"Definitive and fascinating. Definitive because, after decades of ill-informed or partial accounts this book fully defines and describes its subject; no future writer can ignore it. Fascinating because the fluent clarity of Andrew's narrative, his eye for colourful individual detail and the sheer interest of his subjects. . . . This book is essential reading for anyone with even the slightest interest in intelligence in the modern period."
--"The Spectator"
"Andrew is an entertaining and authoritative guide through the labyrinth of secret files, with an infectious fascination for the game of counter-espionage. . . . An important part of Andrew's achievement is to narrate with clarity an incredibly complex story in which bizarre and improbable reality often outruns the most rococo fabrications of the spy novelist."
--"The Observer "(London)
"Brimming with some wonderful details. . . . A valuable and important contribution to our understanding of the 20th century."
--"The Independent" (London)

Penetrating. . . . Inestimably valuable. . . . Fills in a chapter of history that has been unjustly neglected.
"The New York Times Book Review"
Fascinating and instructive. . . . As complete and thorough as such a history may be and as engrossing as any spy novel.
"Los Angeles Times"
Unprecedented. . . . Weighty, measured and compelling. . . . With this book, the author has done a formidably good job for both the service and the public interest.
Max Hastings, "The Sunday Times" (London)
As gripping as any thriller. . . . Throws new light on an important area of the running of the country, analysing the changing threats to national security over the 100 years and discussing the appropriateness or otherwise of the service s response. . . . It will be enthusiastically scrutinised by historians, intelligence buffs and conspiracy theorists.
Stella Rimington, "Financial Times"
Tantalizing. . . . Meticulous and extensive. . . . This book is unlikely to be surpassed for another 100 years, and until then will be the necessary starting point for anyone who wants to know what, exactly, MI5 is.
"The Daily Telegraph "(London)
A tour de force: a dazzlingly detailed account. . . . Andrew [is] remarkably candid.
"Tulsa World"
Andrew has demonstrated why he is considered by most of his peers to be the world s leading intelligence scholar. His mastery of sources and ability to write so clearly is second to none.
"The Raleigh News & Observer"
Magisterial, authoritative, balanced, readable. . . . MI5 has been well-served by this history and so have future historians, Service staff and the public in general.
"The Sunday Telegraph" (London)
[This] book covers everything. . . . It is a striking experiment in openness.
"Economist"
Absolutely fascinating. . . . A sweeping and highly readable account of a century of British intelligence.
"The Washington Times"
Clearly written, brilliantly organised and extremely readable, not least because of something [Andrew] shares with many of MI5 s staff over the past hundred years a sense of humour.
"The Times" (London)
There are plenty of fresh details about celebrated events, behind-the-scenes tidbits about successes and foibles, and dish about infamous people. . . . It s crack for history and spy agency addicts.
Gerald Posner, "The Daily Beast"
A ripping read and just the kind of work one would hope for from a well-qualified academic who has been given the run of MI5 s treasure-trove of files.
"The" "Guardian "(London)
Definitive and fascinating. Definitive because, after decades of ill-informed or partial accounts this book fully defines and describes its subject; no future writer can ignore it. Fascinating because the fluent clarity of Andrew s narrative, his eye for colourful individual detail and the sheer interest of his subjects. . . . This book is essential reading for anyone with even the slightest interest in intelligence in the modern period.
"The Spectator"
Andrew is an entertaining and authoritative guide through the labyrinth of secret files, with an infectious fascination for the game of counter-espionage. . . . An important part of Andrew s achievement is to narrate with clarity an incredibly complex story in which bizarre and improbable reality often outruns the most rococo fabrications of the spy novelist.
"The Observer "(London)
Brimming with some wonderful details. . . . A valuable and important contribution to our understanding of the 20th century.
"The Independent" (London)"

Penetrating. . . . Inestimably valuable. . . . Fills in a chapter of history that has been unjustly neglected.
The New York Times Book Review
Fascinating and instructive. . . . As complete and thorough as such a history may be and as engrossing as any spy novel.
Los Angeles Times
Unprecedented. . . . Weighty, measured and compelling. . . . With this book, the author has done a formidably good job for both the service and the public interest.
Max Hastings, The Sunday Times (London)
As gripping as any thriller. . . . Throws new light on an important area of the running of the country, analysing the changing threats to national security over the 100 years and discussing the appropriateness or otherwise of the service s response. . . . It will be enthusiastically scrutinised by historians, intelligence buffs and conspiracy theorists.
Stella Rimington, Financial Times
Tantalizing. . . . Meticulous and extensive. . . . This book is unlikely to be surpassed for another 100 years, and until then will be the necessary starting point for anyone who wants to know what, exactly, MI5 is.
The Daily Telegraph (London)
A tour de force: a dazzlingly detailed account. . . . Andrew [is] remarkably candid.
Tulsa World
Andrew has demonstrated why he is considered by most of his peers to be the world s leading intelligence scholar. His mastery of sources and ability to write so clearly is second to none.
The Raleigh News & Observer
Magisterial, authoritative, balanced, readable. . . . MI5 has been well-served by this history and so have future historians, Service staff and the public in general.
The Sunday Telegraph (London)
[This] book covers everything. . . . It is a striking experiment in openness.
Economist
Absolutely fascinating. . . . A sweeping and highly readable account of a century of British intelligence.
The Washington Times
Clearly written, brilliantly organised and extremely readable, not least because of something [Andrew] shares with many of MI5 s staff over the past hundred years a sense of humour.
The Times (London)
There are plenty of fresh details about celebrated events, behind-the-scenes tidbits about successes and foibles, and dish about infamous people. . . . It s crack for history and spy agency addicts.
Gerald Posner, The Daily Beast
A ripping read and just the kind of work one would hope for from a well-qualified academic who has been given the run of MI5 s treasure-trove of files.
The Guardian (London)
Definitive and fascinating. Definitive because, after decades of ill-informed or partial accounts this book fully defines and describes its subject; no future writer can ignore it. Fascinating because the fluent clarity of Andrew s narrative, his eye for colourful individual detail and the sheer interest of his subjects. . . . This book is essential reading for anyone with even the slightest interest in intelligence in the modern period.
The Spectator
Andrew is an entertaining and authoritative guide through the labyrinth of secret files, with an infectious fascination for the game of counter-espionage. . . . An important part of Andrew s achievement is to narrate with clarity an incredibly complex story in which bizarre and improbable reality often outruns the most rococo fabrications of the spy novelist.
The Observer (London)
Brimming with some wonderful details. . . . A valuable and important contribution to our understanding of the 20th century.
The Independent (London)

" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Where does 'MI5' come from?

MI5 originally stood for 'Military Intelligence [Department] 5'. The Secret Service Bureau (SSB) was formed in 1909 to counter the danger to Britain from German espionage, and the division of the SSB responsible for counter-espionage within the British Isles became Department 5, or ‘MI5’. MI5 was renamed the Security Service in 1931, but is still commonly known as MI5 today.

Where is MI5 based?

MI5's staff, headed by Director General Jonathan Evans, is largely based in their headquarters at Thames House in London. They also have eight regional offices around Great Britain plus a Northern Ireland headquarters. The Service is organized into seven branches, each with specific areas of responsibility, which work to counter a range of threats including terrorism, espionage and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

What happened to MI1 – MI4?

There were a number of departments within the Directorate of Military Intelligence (MI1 through MI19) which dealt with a range of issues. For example, MI1 was responsible for code-breaking, and MI2 handled Russian and Scandinavian intelligence. The responsibilities of these departments were either discontinued or absorbed into The War Office, MI5 and MI6 and, later, the Government Communications Headquarters. What is the difference between MI5 and MI6? The Security Service (MI5) is the UK’s security intelligence agency, responsible for protecting the UK, its citizens and interests, at home and overseas, against the major threats to national security. The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) is primarily responsible for gathering intelligence outside the UK in support of the government's security, defence, foreign and economic policies.

How realistic is the depiction of MI5 in the television series "Spooks"?

The BBC's "Spooks" is a slickly-produced and entertaining drama, but, like other works of spy fiction, it glamorizes the world of intelligence. The nature of MI5's work can be stimulating and highly rewarding (as the show's strapline declares, it is not "9 to 5"), but the programme does not portray the full range of their activities, nor the routine, but vitally important, aspects of their operations which would not make such exciting viewing. Particularly unrealistic is the way in which the characters in "Spooks" regularly act outside the law in pursuit of their investigations! --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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