MI5: British Security Service Operations, 1909-45 Paperback – 21 Apr 1983
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A look at MI5 operations before and during the War.
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Top Customer Reviews
Covering the period when M15 came into existance to the end of the war, the book is littered with stories of the spies, counterspies and evencounter-counter spies handled by M15.
The stories related well when cross referenced with other books.
I am amazed that Nigel West is able to produce the level of detail that he does.
A thoroughly good read.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It seems that a degree of pre-knowledge of many of the personalities involved in the story is required of the reader in order to obtain the full benefit of this impressive history, the author does seem to expect that readers are conversant with many British authors and academics and that the whole of Burke's Peerage has been previously ingested! This reader's recommendation is that as you prepare to tackle the reading of this work that you photo-copy (or at least post-it note) each of the many charts of agents, that lists their real names and code names, as the author, being of course, very familiar with these participants often refers to them by either ... and sometimes uses both in the same sentence.
Most readers into Spy Stories and Espionage will already know of the membership in British Intelligence of authors like le Carré, Roald Dahl and Graham Greene and perhaps even that of Malcolm Muggeridge and Somerset Maugham but author West adds a few more who played in the "Great Game"... including one of my heroes, Victor Rothschild, and historians Montgomery Hyde, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Duff Cooper ... and there is always Art Historian Anthony Blunt of course!
I was seeking information on WWII events for introductory chapters in my manuscript in progress "Narrations of War in Cuba" and digging through the masses of information was able to find a number of useful things. For instance, Chapter II page 49 starts with a quote (in reference to the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), which I found comparable to the Cuban Communist Party of the same era) `The loyalty of a Party member lies primarily with the Party and secondarily with his country.' Alexander Foote, a CPGP member recruited into the NKVD by Douglas Springhall in 1938, commenting on his experiences in his memoirs Handbook for Spies.
In parallel to times and events in Cuba the first lines of this chapter read: "In 1921 Ramsay McDonald's government allowed the Soviet Union to establish a permanent diplomatic representative in London, thus setting the scene for a covert conflict between the British and Russian intelligence services." Apparently this is a typo which should read 1924 [Answers.com (accessed 4-28-09) James Ramsay MacDonald [...]]. Still the 1924 date corresponds far better to the Cuban legalization of the Islands communist party under then elected president Gerardo Machado and approximates the arrival of that young Stalinist agent who would come be known as Fabio Grobart in Cuba.
I find it curious --but in all probability unrelated-- that McDonald, died 9 November 1937 on the liner Reina del Pacifico, at the same time that same Stalinist Fabio Grobart was sending Cuban volunteers on this same vessel to fight for the Republic in Spain (Vera Jiménez, Fernando 1999 (last accessed 4-24-09) Cubanos en la Guerra Civil española. La presencia de voluntarios en las Brigadas Internacionales y el Ejército Popular de la República. Revista Complutense de Historia de América. 25, 295-321 [...] Lists (admittedly incomplete) of those who traveled on the Reina del Pacífico include: Miguel Angel Mordí Rivero in April 1937: Alejo Elias Sánchez Sufro, Rafael Nodarse, and Florentino Alejo in September 1937 Apparently they landed at the vessels last stop in France at El Havre, went to Paris and from there to Barcelona presumably by land routes. It seems that Rolando (El Tigre) Masferrer (listed as Rolando Mas Ferrer) a famous lame murderous communist executioner, wounded in the Spanish Civil War, and rival of Fidel Castro, who is most notorious as a killer for Batista was not listed as a passenger under that name. Caution is advised since this last cited reference -not the reviewed volume- is a pro-communist source and its bias in this direction is considerable).
As to beautiful women agents, one can cannot help but note Joan Miller, Hungarian refugee and society photographer, who placed her mind and her body at the service of Britain (see for example her image among the photographs and their legends that follow on page 96 of this Nigel West book). She was one of the agents of MI5 who successfully penetrated the British Communist Party. An amusing side detail is the damage to her photograph done by a ragingly jealous woman.
Many more details are found in this book by Nigel West. Thus I recommend this volume as an excellent source for those interested in details of 20th century history and its endless espionage, plots and intrigues, and of course beautiful women spies.