Nigel West

A - G


  Allason, Rupert. The Branch: A History of the Metropolitan Special Branch, 1883-1983. London: Secker & Warburg, 1983.


West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] At Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britain's Intelligence Agency, MI6. London: Greenhill Books, 2006.

Peake, Studies 51.2 (2007), notes that this work explains why the existence of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) and the name of its chief -- "C" -- remained official secrets until 1994. It also "provides short biographical essays on each of the 13 'Cs' since Mansfield Smith-Cumming."

For Glees, I&NS 24.6 (Dec. 2009), West "offers his readers a wealth of evidence" about the work of SIS "which, for the time being, they won't find anywhere else." He "describes the long but probably inevitable catalogue of SIS intelligence failures" but also "provides plausible balancing successes.... [T]his is an interesting book which often seems genuinely revealing." However, "it is not always clear where the facts end [and] the fiction begins. This is a book to be read with profit -- and great care."


West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] "Banning Books." In In the Name of Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Walter Pforzheimer, eds. Hayden B. Peake and Samuel Halpern, 597-620. Washington, DC: NIBC Press, 1994.

The prolific West comments on the hazards and rewards of publishing intelligence-related works. All-in-all, an interesting traipse through some of the highs and lows of writers and writing about intelligence.


West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] "Commentary: Making War Controversial." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 17, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 358-363.

"Whatever the truth behind the elusive Iraqi stockpiles [of WMD], considerable political damage has been done to the Western allies.... [O]ne of the principal casualties of the apparent debacle will be the stature and credibility of Great Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, and the automatic acceptance of its hitherto unchallenged authority."


West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] Counterfeit Spies: Genuine or Bogus? An Astonishing Investigation into Secret Agents of the Second World War. London: St. Ermin's, 1998.

Periscope 21.3 notes that West manages to debunk "many of the great spy stories" of World War II. "The research is thorough, the writing is excellent, the reasoning persuasive." Wiant, Studies 46.2 (2002), finds that the author combines "keen analysis with recently declassified records" to systematically examine "books purporting to be true accounts of World War II intelligence operations that are, either in whole or in part, rampant embellishments or complete fabrications." Along the way, West "sort[s] out the verifiable historical details from the exaggerations and inventions."

West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] "Espionage After the Cold War: The British Perspective." World Intelligence Review 13, no. 2 (1994): 1, 3.

West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] "Fiction, Faction and Intelligence." Intelligence and National Security 19, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 275-289.

The author presents what he terms "a reasonably exhaustive survey of British intelligence literature" as "published by British Security Service (MI5) and British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) officers. Its central argument is that, contrary to what has commonly been assumed, the British intelligence community has entered the public sphere often since its creation, primarily in the form of memoirs, fictionalised memoirs and classic spy fiction."


West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] The Friends: Britain's Post-War Secret Intelligence Operations. London: Coronet, 1990. [pb]

Surveillant 1.1: "Banned in hardcover (not by Government but by Greville Wynne legal action against the author). Now in paper (Mr. Wynne has died). Here we have the first account of MI6 activity in the secret war in Palestine, the coup in Iran, the collapse of the spy ring that preceded the ill-fated Suez campaign, the defection of GRU officer Tokaev, and the facts on the fatal mission of CDR Crabb on his underwater excursion. Fascinating revelations, if true, on the remarkable exfiltration from Moscow of Oleg Gordievsky."


West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] Games of Intelligence: The Classified Conflict of International Espionage Revealed. London: Crown, 1989. New York: Crown, 1990.

Surveillant 1.1 notes that the U.S. edition has been updated. "West, as provocative as he is prolific, asks and answers ... questions about the workings of intelligence organizations in both East and West." A NameBase review calls the book "a broad, name-intensive survey of British, French, U.S., and Soviet intelligence." The author "prefers attention to detail and the occasional anecdote to make his points.... This makes the book a good read as well as a good reference to some of the available literature."

[France/Overviews; Israel/Overviews; Overviews/Gen/90s; Russia/Overviews/90s; UK/Overviews/West]

West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] GCHQ: The Secret Wireless War, 1900-1986. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1986. The SIGINT Secrets: The Signals Intelligence War, 1900 to Today. New York: Morrow, 1988.

According to Petersen, this book "[t]reats the British experience, with substantial collateral information on U.S. intelligence." McGinnis, Cryptolog, Summer 1996, says West provides an "exhaustive history" of the British effort. In addition, "[p]ost war COMINT collaboration among the Allies is covered in detail.... The book is highly recommended as an anthology of what has happened in the COMINT business in this century."

Sexton argues that "West relies on others and offers little that is new or original." Peake, AIJ 15.1/91, seems in accord with that judgment but adds that West, nonetheless, makes a contribution by bringing together material from various other sources "in one coherent presentation." Going off on a real tear against West, O'Halpin, I&NS 2.4, finds "many ... questionable statements and errors of fact in GCHQ, " and declares the book to be "simply an unreliable synopsis of what is already available."


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