UNITED KINGDOM

Overviews

2000s

G - Z

Hoare, Oliver, ed. "Special Issue on British Intelligence in the Twentieth Century: A Missing Dimension?" Intelligence and National Security 17, no. 1 (Spring 2002): Entire issue.

"This special issue contains the papers given at a two-day research conference held at the [P]ublic Record Office (PRO), The National Archive [italics in original], 29-30 June 2001. The conference ... was designed to investigate the impact of recent open government initiatives ... on the study of intelligence, together with the wider reverberations of intelligence upon military, diplomatic and international history." Oliver Hoare, "Introduction," 1. Click for Table of Contents.

Intelligence and Security Committee. Intelligence and Security Committee Annual Report 2007-2008. London: Stationery Office, 5 Mar. 2009. Available at: http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm75/7542/7542.asp.

Johnson, Robert. Spying for Empire: The Great Game in Central and South Asia, 1757-1947. London: Greenhill, 2006. St. Paul, MN: MBI, 2006.

Kelly, I&NS 21.6 (Dec. 2006), notes the author's "impressive research in the pertinent archives." Johnson shows "how British India built up its intelligence network ... beyond the frontiers" with "listening posts." For Peake, Studies 51.2 (2007), the author demonstrates that "by the end of the 19th century, British military intelligence in India had become a professional service that did more than monitor the northern frontier. It also maintained India's domestic security through collaboration with the local Indian police."

Northcott, Chris. "The Role, Organization, and Methods of MI5." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 20, no. 3 (Fall 2007): 453-479.

This is a broad, nuts-and-bolts description of MI5 from its inception to the present. It is a useful outline of the development of the organization.

Rimington, Stella. "So Who Are K, C and M? A Brief History of British Intelligence." The Guardian, 11 Sep. 2001. [http://www.guardian.co.uk]

Very brief.

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."

Thomas, Gordon. Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2009. New York: St. Martin's, 2010. [pb]

Peake, Studies 53.3 (Sep. 2009) and Intelligencer 17.2 (Fall 2009), finds that with regard to intelligence operations shared by Britain and the United States, "Thomas makes a dazzling muddle of each case he mentions, some of which never happened.... When it comes to describing CIA and its personnel, Thomas doesn't let up in erring.... [T]hree observations can be supported. First, no other book on intelligence has as many errors. Second, the facts that are correct are not new. Third,... no source notes are provided."

To Fitsanakis, intelNews.org, 29 May 2009, this work provides "a useful historical narrative." The author's "skilled storytelling" is marred, however, by the "inexcusable" absence of source notes. In addition, the work "contains some historical inaccuracies, as well as several uncritical statements, which are perhaps indicative of Thomas' political preconceptions." Maxwell, NPR 15 Apr. 2009, sees Secret Wars as a "thoroughly enjoyable if flawed history of British intelligence." It "is such a rollicking good read" that "Thomas can almost be forgiven for his ... somewhat sycophantic approval of any action pursued, legally or not, in the name of British security."

Dastych, Canada Free Press, 20 Mar. 2009, calls Secret Wars "a fascinating read.... The best and undisputable value" is Thomas' "encounters with real flesh and blood intelligence people, including some of them that turned the tide of history." The reviewer also finds "exceptionally high value" in the author's "factual description and professional assessment of the substantial changes in the intelligence community, caused by [the] new political and military situation of the world at large."

For Rutten, Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2009, "[t]his captivating study ... draws its power from rich anecdotes and interviews." This work is a "rollicking, readable new history of Britain's famous spy organizations." Although this is a "popular history,... the quality of the storytelling is such that even many specialists are likely to find new nuggets of insight.... While the author's eye and ear for the nuances of British society and politics are keen, he sometimes fumbles with American details." King, NIPQ 26.2 (Jun. 2010), finds it "difficult ... to distinguish between facts and conjecture" in this book.

West, IJI&C 24.1 (Spring 2011), eviscerates the author's book. Thomas takes the reader into the "realm of fiction" where "every purported fact needs to be looked at" closely. The author's "tendency to invent dialogue pervades the book.... The scale of Thomas's apparent determination to misrepresent well-established fact is breathtaking.... The list of ... absurdities is endless."

Thomas, Martin. Empires of Intelligence: Security Services and Colonial Disorder After 1914. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2008.

Peake, Studies 52.2 (Jun. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), finds that the author "compares French intelligence operations [broadly defined] in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Syria with those of the British in Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan, Egypt, and Sudan.... Thomas's extensively detailed and well-documented analysis concludes that the inevitable failure of colonialism was in part a result of the inability of the 'intelligence state' to accomplish unrealistic goals."

For Rathbone, I&NS 24.6 (Dec. 2009), "this is an unusually readable[,]...fascinating," and "admirably accessible book" written by "a scholar who is not only industrious but also tenacious and enterprising." Nonetheless, "Thomas can sometimes leave a reader with the impression that intelligence gatherers were smarter than they sometimes proved to be."

Thurlow, Richard C. "The Security Service, the Communist Party of Great Britain and British Fascism, 1932-51." In British Fascism, the Labour Movement and the State, eds. Nigel Copsey and David Renton, 27-45 Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Tombs, Robert and Isabelle. That Sweet Enemy: The French and British from the Sun King to the Present. London: Heinemann, 2006.

Bell, I&NS 23.3 (Jun. 2008), finds that "[s]pecialists in intelligence will find much that is directly relevant to their interests" in this "lively and clear" work that "is a pleasure to read."

Tomlinson, Richard. The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security. Moscow: Narodny Variant Publishers, 2001. London: 192.com, 2001.

Clark comment: This is the disillusioned MI6 officer's "expose" of both his time in the British SIS and his continuing battle with the agency since his dismissal. Andrew, Times (London), 15 Feb. 2001, and Intelligencer 12.1, comments that although "Tomlinson's story is rarely dull, it suffers from his evident difficulty in distinguishing fact from fiction.... There is not much in The Big Breach of whose reliability we can be sure." For example, "Tomlinson's inaccurate account of [Oleg] Gordievsky's exfiltration [from Russia in 1985] is similar to the KGB version."

For Gordievsky, Telegraph (London), 28 Jan. 2001, there is no doubt that the KGB both paid Tomlinson "an unheard-of sum" for his book and "wrote large chunks of it.... Tomlinson is ... a new kind of traitor: one not motivated ... simply by spite. His treachery is treachery by temper-tantrum.... Still, the effects ... are just as damaging as the old, more familiar variety. No one should be under any illusion that Tomlinson has seriously damaged MI6. Whether his allegations are fact or fantasy (and they are mostly fantasy) hardly matters. Tomlinson has undermined MI6's most potent weapon: its reputation for being able to keep secrets."

See Reuben F. Johnson, "Opening MI6's Can of Worms," Moscow News, 16 Mar. 2001, II [http://www.themoscowtimes.com]. This is really not so much a review of Tomlinson's book as a reiteration of its main themes.

Twigge, Stephen, Edward Hampshire, and Graham Macklin. British Intelligence: Secrets, Spies and Sources. London: National Archives, 2008.

Peake, Studies 53.1 (Mar. 2009) and Intelligencer 17.1 (Winter-Spring 2009), finds this to be "a flawed work." There are "more than 100 facts mentioned in the narrative [that] are either not documented at all or not supported by the sources cited.... The errors concerning the 'Cambridge spy ring' are particularly egregious, since no citations at all are provided and the truth has been publicly known for years." Similarly, West, IJI&C 22.4 (Winter 2009), refers to "the book's blend of unreliable opinion, unsubstantiated claims, and sheer inaccuracy."

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