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The Secret War Between the Wars.

The Secret War Between the Wars

Kevin Quinlan

Boydell Press

c/o Boydell & Brewer Inc

668 Mount Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620-2731

9781843839385, $49.95, 266pp,

Synopsis: Even though the First World War had ended, the battle against Britain's enemies continued unabated during the period of the 1920s and 1930s. Buffeted by political interference and often fighting for their very survival, Britain's intelligence services turned to fight a new, clandestine war against rising powers Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Using recently declassified files of the British Security Service (MI5), "The Secret War Between the Wars: MI5 In The 1920s And 1930s" details the operations and trade craft of British intelligence to thwart Communist revolutionaries, Soviet agents, and Nazi sympathizers during the interwar period. "The Secret War Between the Wars: MI5 In The 1920s And 1930s" is a new study which charts the development of British intelligence methods and policies in the early twentieth century and illuminates the fraught path of intelligence leading to the Second World War. An analysis of Britain's most riveting interwar espionage cases tells the story of Britain's transition between peace and war. The methods developed by British intelligence in the early twentieth century continue to resonate today. Much like now, the intelligence activity of the British in the pre-Second World War era focused on immediate threats posed by subversive, clandestine networks against a backdrop of shifting great power politics. As Western countries continue to face the challenge of terrorism, and in an era of geopolitical change heralded by the rise of China and the resurgence of Russia, a return to the past may provide context for a better understanding of the future.

Critique: The British security service commonly known as MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5), is the United Kingdom's domestic counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS; also known as MI6) focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and Defence Intelligence (DI). All come under the direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). The service has a statutory basis in the Security Service Act 1989 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994. Its remit includes the protection of British parliamentary democracy and economic interests, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage within the UK. Although mainly concerned with internal security, it does have an overseas role in support of its mission. An exceptionally well written, organized, and presented work of truly impressive scholarship, "The Secret War Between the Wars: MI5 In The 1920s And 1930s" is enhanced with ten illustrations; three appendices; forty-nine pages of notes; a fifteen page bibliography; and a comprehensive index, making it a critically important addition to academic library 20th Century History collections in general, and the supplemental reading lists of students with an interest in the history of MI5 in particular. It should be noted that "The Secret War Between the Wars: MI5 In The 1920s And 1930s" is also available in a Kindle edition ($34.39)

John Burroughs


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Author:Burroughs, John
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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