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Nigel West. At Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britain's Intelligence Agency, M16.

Nigel West. At Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britain's Intelligence Agency, M16, Greenhill Books, London, 2006., ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number

ISBN International Standard Book Number

ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m 
 1-85367-702-7, hard cover with dust jacket dust jacket
1. A removable paper cover used to protect the binding of a book. Also called dust cover.

2. A cardboard sleeve in which a phonograph record is packaged.
, 296 pp., 21 b & w photos plus 1 b & w map, 17 x 24 cm, UK20 [pounds sterling] plus p&p.

When the noted authority Nigel West writes a book on espionage, it is sure to be heeded and praised. This book is no exception. One wonders how the author was able to assemble such in-depth biographical details on the secret lives of the fourteen chiefs of the British Secret Intelligence Service or M16. If one is interested in intrigues in politics, Foreign Office demands and the necessity of keeping an eye on enemies or potential enemies, there is a wealth of interesting stories and secrets to satisfy the reader or researcher.

The first director or Chief, of "the firm", Captain Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming Captain Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming, KCMG, CB (1 April 1859 – 14 June 1923) was the first director of what would become the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6.  (known in-house as C) and his successors recorded some outstanding wins, but on the other hand the work was undermined, sometimes disastrously, by double agents and moles recruited by the opposition. Smith-Cumming's fights with the Foreign Office post-WW1 over staff cuts when there was a crying need to counter the new threat of Bolshevism make interesting reading, and remind us that bean counters are with us always. C's outstanding agent in WW1 was a disaffected German naval officer NAVAL OFFICER. The name of an officer of the United States, whose duties are prescribed by various acts of congress.
     2. Naval officers are appointed for the term of four years, but are removable from office at pleasure. Act of May 15, 1820, Sec. 1, 3 Story, L.
, codenamed TR-16, who supplied priceless information for over twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.

And so the story continues year after year: expansion, successes, failures, disasters, studies of relevant personalities in "the firm" and of those in politics and the bureaucracy who affected directions taken. The text is replete with famous names in espionage such as George Blake George Blake (born George Behar, November 11, 1922) is a former British spy known for having been a double agent in service of the Soviet Union. He escaped from Wormwood Scrubs prison in 1966. , Anthony Blunt Anthony Frederick Blunt (26 September 1907 – 26 March 1983), known as Sir Anthony Blunt, KCVO between 1956 and 1979, was an English art historian, formerly Professor of the History of Art, University of London and director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, London , Guy Burgess Guy Francis De Moncy Burgess (16 April, 1911 – 30 August, 1963) was a British-born intelligence officer and double agent who worked for the Soviet Union. He was part of the Cambridge Five spy ring that betrayed allied secrets to the Soviets before and during the Cold War. , Donald MacLean, Kim Philby and Geoffrey Prime, as well as defectors such as Oleg Penkovsky, Oleg Gordievsky and Igor Gouzenko. The involvement of Mark Thatcher and Jeffrey Archer in a plot to take over the country of Equatorial Guinea and the resulting embarrassment to the British Government is also outlined.

The story is as up-to-date as January 2006, when H.M. Queen Elizabeth II made a visit to Vauxhall Cross and was received by the current C, John Scarlett.

A glossary of intelligence community abbreviations, a map of historical SIS sites in Central London and a listing of SIS stations add to the already high level interest of the text and make this a highly recommended reference.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Military Historical Society of Australia
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Wigzell, Syd
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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