UNITED KINGDOM

Overviews

Intelligence-Related Materials

M - Z

Moran, Christopher. Classified: Secrecy and the State in Modern Britain. London: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

According to Peake, Studies 57.2 (Jun. 2013), and Intelligencer 20.1 (Spring-Summer 2013), this work "is a study of how the [D Notice] system worked until the early 21st century, when Section 2 of the OSA [Official Secrets Act] was repealed and a Freedom of Information Act was enacted in 2005.... It is a superbly documented study and a fine contribution to the literature."

Porter, Bernard.

1. "The Historiography of the Early Special Branch." Intelligence and National Security 1, no. 3 (Sep. 1986): 381-394.

Porter notes that the official files of the Special Branch prior to 1914 have been destroyed. However, a large volume of material on early Special Branch activities is available in the Home Office files at the Public Record Office. The author has little to say positive about previous writing on the Special Branch (interestingly, the publication of his The Rise of the Special Branch was pending at the time). He is particularly cutting with regard to Rupert Allason's The Branch (1983).

2. The Origins of the Vigilant State: The London Metropolitan Police Special Branch before the First World War. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987.

Petrow, I&NS 3.4, lauds this book as "exemplary in its wide research, close attention to context, lucid style and willingness to tackle large issues and to speculate on limited evidence."

3. Plots and Paranoia: A History of Political Espionage in Britain, 1790-1988. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989. London: Routledge, 1992

Clark comment: The paranoia in the text of this book, if not in the title, is the author's, who equates state security with an oppressive and repressive regime. Little consideration is given to the context within which modern security concerns exist. However, his discussion of the years prior to World War I is worth reading.

Surveillant 2.6 sees Plots and Paranoia as a "[d]etailed, scholarly history." In some ways, this is "an admirable and important book; however, it has some serious limitations, or rather its author does, stemming from his self-admitted, deep-seated prejudices against the concepts of intelligence and state security." To Popplewell, I&NS 6.1, Porter's "research is excellent, and the book is packed with stimulating, often provocative observations." Nevertheless, his strongest arguments about the repressiveness of the modern British state "revolve around the 'Wilson plot' which Peter Wright has now admitted was a fabrication."

Rogers, Ann. Secrecy and Power in the British State: A History of the Official Secrets Act. London: Pluto, 1997.

Gill, I&NS 13.4, finds this work to be "very disappointing," with a "highly problematic" theoretical framework and a "sometimes confusing" analysis. The reviewer is left with "the feeling that the research on which this [book] was based was rather shallow."

Thomas, Rosamund M. Espionage and Secrecy: The Official Secrets Acts 1911-1989 of the United Kingdom. London and New York: Routledge, 1991.

Thurlow, Richard C. The Secret State: British Internal Security in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1994.

Vincent, David. The Culture of Secrecy: Britain 1832-1998. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

According to Gill, I&NS 15.3, the author concentrates "on state practices, in particular the role of the civil service, interception of communications and the impact of welfare policies on privacy." The reviewer sees this work as "well-written, [with] each chapter end[ing] with some vignette of the period that encompasses [his] themes." Kahn, Intelligencer 17.1 (Winter-Spring 2009), says that "this excellent study ranges more widely and deeply" than Moynihan's Secrecy (1998).

Weinberger, Barbara. Keeping the Peace? Policing Strikes in Britain, 1906-1926. New York & Oxford: Berg, 1991.

Wilkinson, Nicholas. Secrecy and the Media: The Official History of the United Kingdom's D-Notice System. London: Routledge, 2009.

Peake, Studies 54.1 (Mar. 2010) and Intelligencer 54.1 (Winter-Spring 2010), notes that this is "the official history" of the D-Notice System. The author "served as secretary to the Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC), the body that oversees" the D-Notice System. Wilkinson traces the DPBAC's "evolution in great detail" from the first such committee in 1912 until 1997. The work "is documented by official sources that are cited. It should be of great interest to all those concerned with national security, intelligence, and freedom of the press."

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