Adams, James. Secret Armies: Inside the American, Soviet and European Special Forces. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988.
Valcourt, IJI&C 2.3, says the "title is overly ambitious," since there is "a relative lack of information on the special forces of all nations except the United States.... Despite considerable lip service by politicians and military chieftains..., the units have generally been resented and ignored." The book is "readable" and a "good introduction to the field."
According to NameBase, "Adams ... frequently seems overly enthusiastic, as if he were writing ad copy in a magazine for would-be mercenaries. But ... [he] does manage some credible reporting on Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) and their efforts against the IRA, the war in Afghanistan, and the series of complete screw-ups in Grenada.... Other chapters deal with special forces training and equipment, Charles Beckwith's Delta Force, and Soviet operations. There is also a bibliography with 90 titles, and a 13-page appendix that describes special forces alphabetically by country."
Aldrich, Richard J., ed. British Intelligence, Strategy and the Cold War, 1945-1951. London & New York: Routledge, 1992.
Clive, Gov't & Opposition 28.4, notes that the main themes of this "collection of essays by academics ... have been perceptibly and accurately presented." However, "the absence of an overall conclusion distilled from the findings of fourteen different contributors" is a serious fault. It seems to Stafford, I&NS 9.1, that Aldrich had "sufficient editorial command to ensure" that the essays "all march in roughly the same direction and [sound] similar tunes." This is a "valuable addition to the literature."
1. "Churchill and Intelligence." Intelligence and National Security 3, no. 3 (Jul. 1988): 181-193.
It was under Churchill's "inspirational leadership ... that the previously fragmented British intelligence services achieved at last that degree of co-ordination which turned them into an intelligence community. And it was Churchill also who was the moving force in making the Anglo-American intelligence alliance which has remained ever since the most special part of 'the special relationship."'
2. "Codebreaking and Foreign Offices: The French, British and American Experience." In The Missing Dimension: Governments and Intelligence Communities in the Twentieth Century, eds. Christopher Andrew and David Dilks, 33-53. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1984.
3. Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community. London: Heinemann, 1985. New York: Viking, 1985. JN329I6A53
Clark comment: Although written before he established himself as one of the premier intelligence historians, Andrew gave clear indications of things to come with this judicious and solid history of British intelligence. For my money, it still has not been bettered for the relevant timeframe.
Jervis, IJI&C 1.2, comments that although "it is not analytic enough for this reader's taste, it does present some themes and arguments." Chambers calls Her Majesty's Secret Service an "encyclopedic history of British intelligence from fin de siecle to the 1980s. Why does it languish on remainder shelves?" For Foot, I&NS 2.1, Andrew's "book is informative and entertaining at once." Much of what he writes about "is new to historians and general readers alike." Andrew covers both MI5 and MI6 "with unprecedented detail and accuracy."
1. The Perfect English Spy: Sir Dick White and the Secret War, 1935-90. London: Heinemann, 1995. The Perfect English Spy: The Unknown Man in Charge During the Most Tumultuous, Scandal-Ridden Era in Espionage History. New York: St. Martin's, 1995.
Clark comment: Sir Dick Goldsmith White headed the British Security Service (MI5) from 1953 to 1956 and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1956 to 1968. Surveillant 4.3 comments that, "with the cooperation of White and dozens of former MI5 and MI6 officers, Bower has written a fascinating, highly authoritative and compelling insiders' account of the successes and disasters which have befallen Britain during the last 50 years.... Highly recommended."
Davies, I&NS 12.3, is less than enthralled with Bower's final product, finding that it "is of considerably less historical value than it might ... have been." The book is "poorly written, frequently unclear, and littered with elementary inaccuracies of detail." Nevertheless, the book "does not try to be an exposé," and does "fill in much of the detail left tantalizingly untouched by the official history." In addition, Bower raises enough doubts about White's management of SIS "to warrant a serious rethinking of the traditionally flattering light cast upon White's record and achievements as Chief of the SIS."
2. Red Web: MI6 and the KGB Master Coup. London: Aurum, 1989. London: Mandarin, 1993. [pb]
Surveillant 3.2/3 says that Red Web discusses a "KGB ... compromised and ... controlled operation ... [that] completely deceived the British and Americans" from 1944 to 1955. According to Powers, NYRB (13 May 1993) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 295-320, this is the "sad tale of misplaced heroism on the part of the Baltic republics, who were cold-heartedly discarded by the British." The author "tells his story well, with much detail and some vividly drawn characters." Chambers sees Bower as "part of the Peter Wright industry," and this book as plagued with "dull writing."
Bulloch, John. M.I.5: The Origin and History of the British Counter-Espionage Service. London: Arthur Barker, 1963.
Constantinides: This book "is far less comprehensive than the title suggests.... Vernon Kell, the first head of the security service, looms large and occupies much space.... The work is especially skimpy on the period of World War II and after.... Bulloch fails to provide sources for much of what he writes."
Curry, Jack C. The Security Service, 1908-1945: The Official History. London: Public Record Office, 1999.
West, The Spectator, 2 Oct. 1999, notes that this work was written at the end of World War II and only now has been declassified and released to the PRO. Curry prepared "a comprehensive history tracing MI5's origins back to before the first world war.... [This] is a candid chronology of MI5's inability to cope with German spies before the second world war, and Soviet spies generally."
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