UNITED KINGDOM

Overviews

Nigel West

[Rupert Allason]

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." [footnotes omitted]

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."

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."

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] A Matter of Trust: MI5 1945-72. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1982. The Circus: MI-5 Operations 1945- 1972. New York: Stein & Day, 1983.

NameBase: "A senior MI5 officer stole [Allason's] manuscript in 1982 and obtained an injunction against publication. But ... the manuscript had already reached U.S. publishers, so British censors were willing to negotiate. Even with the deletions, one has to agree with Allason that 'this final version of The Circus is the most detailed account of MI5's work ever published, or ever likely to be.'" [Clark comment: The latter thought has, of course, proven to grossly inaccurate.]

West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] MI5: British Security Service Operations, 1909-1945. London: Bodley Head, 1981. Braircliff Manor, NY: Stein & Day, 1982.

Rocca and Dziak: This is a "straightforward but uneven history of MI5." The focus of attention is MI5 operations against German activities.

West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] MI6: British Secret Intelligence Service Operations, 1909-45. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983. New York: Random House, 1983.

Sexton refers to this West work as a "well documented survey" of Britain's foreign intelligence service.

West, Nigel [Rupert Allason], ed. The Faber Book of Espionage. London & Boston: Faber & Faber, 1993. 1994. [pb]

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