Smith, Lou. The Secret of MI6. London: Hale, 1975. New York: St. Martin's, 1978.
Smith, Michael. New Cloak, Old Dagger: How Britain's Spies Came in from the Cold. London: Gollancz, 1996.
West, WIR, 16.1, identifies Smith's book as "a self-contained review of all the various parts of the British intelligence jigsaw.... New Cloak, Old Dagger is well informed, reliable, and illustrated" with up-to-date organizational charts of both MI5 and MI6. This book is "strong in substance, with few insupportable assertions." Kruh, Cryptologia 21.4, finds that Smith "provides new details of intelligence activities and fresh insights into the role of British spies during the Cold War."
Calling the book "[c]omprehensive, current, informative, and entertaining," Robertson, IJI&C 10.2, declares New Cloak, Old Dagger to be "the best introduction to the British intelligence community currently available." Although the author is not uncritical in his approach, "his general picture of the present-day organization and role of intelligence agencies is generally favorable." Regrettably, "not all quotations are directly footnoted and no page numbers are given, even when a source is cited.... However, Michael Smith's general scholarship is not in doubt."
Peake, History 26.3, agrees with the positive tenor of the foregoing comments: "The story is well told and documented by many primary sources.... His conclusion ... follows from the balanced evidence presented: 'There is no doubt that intelligence agencies have a continuing role to play in the new world.' (276)"
For Davies, I&NS 13.4, this is "one of the finest books on British intelligence published to date, and one that is both an accessible read and rigorously well researched." The author has been "extremely thorough in citing and elaborating in footnotes his very extensive range of sources. The chapters on MI6 are probably the book's strongest, while the chapters on MI5 are perhaps the weakest. Smith's discussions of signal and military intelligence are "shorter but nonetheless informative." However, GCHQ's second primary mission, communications security, is missing from Smith's survey.
Stafford, David. Churchill and the Secret Service. London & New York: Overlook, 1998. London: Thistle Publishing, 2013. [pb]
Andrew, Telegraph (London), 18 Oct. 1997, comments that "Stafford is the first to pull ... together in a single, very readable volume" Churchill's lifelong involvement with intelligence. The book "also includes fascinating new material." Foot, Spectator, 8 Nov. 1997, says that Stafford "reassesses most of Churchill's major strategic decisions, and shows how secret intelligence dominated them; he provides material for a complete rethink of how the war was won, in a startlingly good book."
For Bennett, I&NS 13.4, Stafford's work is "remarkable" and "magnificent." The author has avoided "with trancendent skill" the pitfalls that accompany writing a near-biography of Churchill. Kirkus Reviews, 1 Dec. 1997, calls the work a "first-rate and, what is more remarkable, an original contribution to Churchilliana, of sure interest to students of Churchill, modern history, or military intelligence."
To Cohen, FA 77.3 (May-Jun. 1998), Stafford "examines, with an unillusioned but generally admiring eye, a statesman who knew how to read intelligence reports and exploit covert operations." Although there is "[n]othing very new ... recounted here," Stafford's stories "are well told and solidly grounded in archival and secondary sources." This assessment is shared by Krome, Library Journal, Jan. 1998, who finds "only a few new revelations here," but notes that "the book does offer an interesting overview of the subject."
Fontaine, History, 26.4, sees the book as providing "a gripping account of Churchill's involvement in intelligence." According to Booklist, 1 Jan. 1998, Stafford believes that Churchill's use of intelligence operations "was generally a plus for Britain and the West. Stafford's narrative is concise, easy to follow..., and often exciting." See also the reviews by Kruh, Cryptologia 22.2; Bates, NIPQ 14.4; Lefebvre, Journal of Military History, Oct. 1999; and Publisher's Weekly, 1 Dec. 1997.
Taylor, Philip M. British Propaganda in the Twentieth Century: Selling Democracy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999. 2001. [pb]
From "Preface": The articles brought togather here "purport to constitute a coherent analysis of Britain's development of its overseas information services and, to a lesser extent, its domestic propaganda, from their origins during the First World War to the present day."
Tebinka, Jacek. "British and Polish Intelligence Services in the 20th Century: Co-operation and Rivalry." Acta Poloniae Historica 84 (2001): 101-136.
Urban, Mark. UK Eyes Alpha: The Inside Story of British Intelligence. London: Faber & Faber, 1996.
According to Surveillant 4.4/5, this book examines "how Britain's spies reacted to the fall of Communism and to the outbreak of new conflicts around the world ." The author surveys "the state of British espionage agencies, and asks what relevance they have today." West, WIR 16.1, finds some of Urban's claims "somewhat debatable," and he "relies upon a narrow range of sources." Nonetheless, his iconoclastic and provocative approach is refreshing.
The author's focus on the negative aspects of what he sees as British intelligence reliance on the United States resonates well with Lustgarten, I&NS 13.2, who says that his "only criticism of the book is [Urban's] complete failure to make use of all of scholarly writing."
Wise, David, and Thomas B. Ross. The Espionage Establishment. New York: Random House, 1967. London: Jonathan Cape, 1968. New York: Bantam Books, 1968. [pb]
Clark comment: This work garnered widespread attention when it was published, basically because it provided in a popular format information that many people had not previously seen. The authors discuss the espionage systems of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States, and China, and present some relatively interesting material on Soviet illegals.
Pforzheimer says the book's "section on the CIA is weak; however the chapter on the British intelligence services reveals considerably more than had previously been published. Comments on the Chinese intelligence services and activities are of little or no value." The absence of source citations and a bibliography bothers Constantinides, but he still finds that the sections on the Soviet Union and Great Britain "are marked by some good material."
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