Book review |

Book review


By Stephen Dorril

Simon & Shuster

Fifteen years in preparation and published over the objections of the British government, this is an in-depth study of the legendary secret intelligence service (James Bond and all that). Founded in 1909, its task is (still) to gather intelligence from every corner of the globe – as opposed to the “other” service, M.I.5. – which concentrates on domestic intelligence.

One might say that M.I.6. and the CIA work hand-in-glove – even share the same bed, as it were – despite occasional differences between the two agencies over policies and methods.

I always presumed that M.I.6. recruited only the most desirable people into its exclusive coterie of spies, but it seems this is not the case. Any British national who finds himself overseas (not to mention the local people) and in a position of influence and responsibility may well be approached by M.I.6. with a view to assisting it with its task(s).

This would be particularly so if you found yourself in a politically sensitive or adversarial nation. What impressed me most about this book was the number of failures and misjudgments – even screw-ups – suffered by the agency, as opposed to the few successful operations controlled by M.I.6. itself. This book will only appeal to those who are interested in covert operations since it’s a long read at 800 pages.

– M.L. Jakeman

Penn Valley

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