Michael Smith

S - Z

and with Others


Smith, Michael. The Secrets of Station X: How the Bletchley Park Codebreakers Helped Win the War. London: Biteback, 2011.

Hamer, Cryptologia 36.2 (Apr. 2012), believes it is the author's "many small vignettes" involving the people "that turn this book into an interesting treatise," as there is little new here.


Smith, Michael. SIX: A History of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service -- Part 1: Murder and Mayhem, 1909-1939. London: Dialogue, 2010.

Peake, Studies 54.4 (Dec. 2010), and Intelligencer 18.2 (Winter-Spring 2011), finds that the author has made good use of primary sources in this history of SIS/MI6 from 1909 to 1939. Smith "add[s] new stories, fill[s] in details, us[es] true names and dates, and perhaps most interesting, describ[es] the reactions of government entities to the intelligence they received." The book "documents a greater concentration of agents operating in Germany, other European nations, and the Middle East during WW I than previously revealed."

For West, IJI&C 24.4 (Winter 2011-2012), this "is emphatically not an unexpurgated version of the official history, and nor is it wholly reliable." More unconstrained than an official historian, "Smith is generous with his criticism and is equally willing to retail some items from which an official historian might have recoiled." Davies, I&NS 26.5 (Oct. 2011), finds that "consistently long-familiar material is fused with additional sources to give substantial new detail to the picture." Smith provides "a tour de force in the exploitation of the available open sources." However, "there is a greater willingness to tolerate speculation than a scholarly reader will generally be comfortable with."


Smith, Michael. "The Spies: Russia Still the Main Concern for Britain." Telegraph (London), 8 May 1996. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"Britain's intelligence requirements are still dominated by the former Soviet Union.... Although Russia is no longer seen as a direct military threat to Britain, the break-up of the Soviet bloc has produced new, more urgent intelligence priorities."


Smith, Michael. "Spy Chiefs in Call to Halt Rimington." Telegraph (London), 20 May 2000. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"The heads of both security services and the Cabinet Secretary have told the Government that they want a ban on publication of memoirs by Stella Rimington.... The requests for a ban were made in separate approaches by Stephen Lander, Dame Stella's successor at MI5, Richard Dearlove, his counterpart at MI6, and Sir Richard Wilson, the Cabinet Secretary."


Smith, Michael. "Spy Chiefs Face Fight to Save Secrets." Telegraph (London), 15 Jan. 2001. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"Publication [of Tomlinson's book] could not come at a worse time for the security services, which face a sustained battle in the courts to defend their secrets. Arguing against publication of Tomlinson's memoirs will be made more difficult by the decision of Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, the domestic security service, to publish her memoirs."


Smith, Michael. The Spying Game: The Secret History of British Espionage. London: Politico Publishing, 2004. [pb]

claclair, AFIO WIN 6-04 (6 Mar. 2004), notes that this "paperback edition is a completely revised and updated version" of New Cloak, Old Dagger (1996). The reviewer adds that "[t]he one criticism to be made is the lack of notes on sources, an omission the author ascribes to a trade-off insisted upon by the publisher in order to produce the paperback edition."

For Kruh, Cryptologia 28.2, "[t]his is an excellent and fascinating book ... that belongs in your personal library." de Jong, JIH 7.2 (Winter 2007-2008), sees this as "a valuable history of British intelligence. It is well-written and balanced.... This book abounds with interesting observations and bits of information."


Smith, Michael. "Spy Lesson No 1: Don't Lose Your Laptop." Telegraph (London), 29 Mar. 2000. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"Details of MI6 techniques -- 'tradecraft' -- stored in a laptop computer that was left in a taxi were not encrypted and could have been read by anyone."


Smith, Michael. "Spymasters Hit at Czech Ministers Over MI6 'Outing.'" Telegraph (London), 18 Feb. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

Oldrich Cerny, the former head of the Czech foreign intelligence service (UZSI), and Stanislav Devaty, his former counterpart at the Czech Security and Intelligence Office (BIS), "have hit out at the country's Social Democrat government over the 'outing' of the homosexual head of MI6 in Prague.... Both men pointed to the painstaking way in which they had developed close relationships with their British counterparts in the years since the fall of communism only to see their efforts destroyed by Prague's inability to keep secrets.

"The row broke earlier this month when a Czech television station broadcast the name, address and sexual orientation of Mr. Hurran.... Cerny regretted that so much of the press coverage focused on the fact that Mr. Hurran was the [British] service's first openly homosexual head of station.... Hurran is likely to be kept in place for the time being. MI6 insists that his work has not been seriously damaged.... But the former army officer has been in Prague for two years and would in any case be due a posting soon."

[OtherCountries/Czech; UK/PostCW/90s/99]

Smith, Michael. "Spy School Will Take Fee-Paying Foreign Agents." Telegraph (London), 25 Oct. 1996. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"A new training base for all three [military] Services ... is being set up at Chicksands.... The new military intelligence agency ... [is] known as the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC)." Units that will be based at Chicksands come from the Army's Intelligence Corps headquarters, including the "Joint Services Intelligence Organisation, which trains interrogators, and those who may need to resist their measures, such as MI6, the SAS and the Special Boat Service"; "the Defence Special Signals School, a combination of the Army, Navy and RAF units which trains servicemen to work with the GCHQ secret listening centre at Cheltenham"; the Joint School of Photographic Interpretation; and the Defence Intelligence and Security School.


Smith, Michael. Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park. London: Channel 4 Books/Macmillan, 1998. New York: TV Books, 1999.

According to Kruh, Cryptologia 23.3 & 24.1, Smith "provides an engaging history" of Station X from the summer of 1939 to June 1946. The "work is distinguished by [the author's] widespread use of 'first hand' comments, descriptions, reports, and personal stories from the people who were there." A Publisher's Weekly, 20 Dec. 1999, reviewer says that "this page-turner is a deeply satisfying parable of the power of humane intellect to defeat evil; it's also a stunning re-creation of one of the most important chapters in the war."

West, IJI&C 12.4, calls Station X "a highly readable, if short, historiography of life at Bletchley Park." For Steury, I&NS 15.4, "there is little here that will be new to the serious student of intelligence history." The author "seems reasonably sound concerning events in Bletchley Park.... [But he] becomes unreliable when he strays outside the estate." The reviewer concludes that "[a] book this superficial might prove useful for a high-school research paper, but will have little value for more serious study."


Smith, Michael. "Tales of Fear and Loathing in the Service." Telegraph (London), 25 Aug. 1997. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

David Shayler's "allegations of MI5 drunkenness and Right-wing paranoia ... will undoubtedly cause immense embarrassment to those charged with giving it a new image. But they are largely the same allegations that led Mrs Thatcher to order a complete shake-out of the organisation in the mid-1980s."


Smith, Michael. "An Undervalued Effort: How the British Broke Japan's Codes." In Action This Day: Bletchley Park from the Breaking of the Enigma Code to the Birth of the Modern Computer, eds. Ralph Erskine and Michael Smith, 127-151, 475-479. London and New York: Bantam, 2001.


Smith, Michael. "The Very Simple Cipher Which 'Snow,' the First Double Cross Agent, Was Given by His German Controllers." In Action This Day: Bletchley Park from the Breaking of the Enigma Code to the Birth of the Modern Computer, eds. Ralph Erskine and Michael Smith, 441-443. London and New York: Bantam, 2001.


Smith, Michael. "Why MI5 Ignored Small Fish in a Big Plot." Telegraph (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"The disclosure that an 87-year-old woman ... was a valuable KGB agent has been accompanied by understandable astonishment at the failure of the authorities to prosecute her. But the suggestions that Melita Norwood was one of the KGB's top spies are very far from the truth and it seems likely that the decision not to prosecute her was made on more sensible grounds than at first seem likely."


Smith, Michael, and Christy Campbell. "Real-life Goldfinger Whose Roubles Paid for MI6 Spies." Telegraph (London), 24 May 1998. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

Mandel Goldfinger "smuggled Swiss gold watches in and out of post-war Berlin to fund a crucial British intelligence operation.... The ... operation, codenamed 'Junk', ran smoothly until the mid-1950s when it was blown by George Blake,... according to a retired MI6 officer who has told [the] story of the real-life Goldfinger on the condition of anonymity."


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