MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 Hardcover – 21 Sep 2010
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'Judicious and fluently written history...a fascinating insight into a hidden world, an impressive work of scholarship with terrific photos' --Andrew Lownie, Sunday Telegraph, 26/09/10
`A very fine book...full of episode and personality' --Peter Hennessy, Daily Telegraph, 25/09/10
'A magisterial account of the two wars in particular, viewed via the prism of secret intelligence. Winningly, it also entertains.' --Mark Sellek, Independent on Sunday, 26/09/10
`Jeffery's monograph is extremely valuable... a realistic picture of a splendid British institution' --Oleg Gordievsky, The Times, 25/09/10
`Fascinating...the book is full of examples of the ingenuity and courage shown by all ranks.'
--Douglas Hurd, Guardian, 02/10/10
written with full and unrestricted access to the closed archives of the
Service for the period 1909-1949.
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Top Customer Reviews
We get here an in-depth look at the heads of the Service, and its role in peace and war: from Boche to Bolsheviks is the title of one chapter, and it might as well have titled the whole book, really, if Jeffrey was trying to write a catchy story rather than an authorised history. There are lots of interesting vignettes here, but little on what you might be looking for - the Cambridge 5, the man who never was, etc: often because this was done by organisations other than MI6. The SOE for example were a wartime sabotage force, not an intelligence service.
At times it's a little dry, but there are interesting thoughts on the need for political independence of a secret service which in turn relies on its being nonpartisan. None of this is dross, or mere noise, but if you are looking for a chronicle of wartime adventure or secret operations and assassinations revealed...alas, this is not the book for you. The cover does say, reads like the script of a Bond film, but really its mostly just the bits where Bond meets with M (itself a play on C) that this book represents.
This is a great work, but be aware what it is not before you buy it.
The book itself is well written and tells the story in an easily accessible style. It should come as no surprise that there is a huge amount of detail, and the book will add greatly to what is known about the Secret Intelligence service.
What has cost the book its fifth star though, is the simple fact that it is an "official" history and has therefore been written under the constraints imposed by MI6 and, although Professor Jeffrey was allowed unrestricted access to MI6's archives, he hasn't released all the information he could have, for example in naming agents. In the foreword MI6s policy on releasing information is set out, and should be read by everyone considering buying this book. The fact that the book is an official history also works against it in that other sources of information haven't been given the consderation they should have.
Personally I would also liked to have seen more on the pre-world war 2 side of things - well over half the book is dedicated to the last 10 years of the period it covers.
All in all though it is a worthwhile addition to the field.
A good informative read which gives some idea of what was/is involved in the gathering of intelligence.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The rhythm of this book goes something like - a series of interesting anecdotes of individual spy networks, reaction to global politics, senior government committee & limited... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Xavi #6
Top quality product at very cheap price compared to shops. Free P&P alsoPublished 15 months ago by K.S
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