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With My Little Eye.

In 110 pages of hilarious anecdote and erudite comment, Nicholas Elliott has followed up his hugely successful Never Judge a Man by his Umbrella. The pleasure of this book is that it has been written by someone who knows what he is talking about, unlike so many pseudo historians who gather their information from the corridors of gossip and lard their findings with poorly researched and often venomous criticism.

The opening chapter on espionage is a masterpiece of lucid writing related with much sound common sense and a deal of humour best illustrated by the following extract from a conversation he had with a security officer in February 1945:--

SO: Does your wife know what you do?

NE: Yes.

SO: How did that come about?

NE: She was my secretary for two years and I think the penny must have dropped.

SO: Quite so. And what about your mother?

NE: She thinks I am in something called SIS which she believes stands for Secret Intelligence Service.

SO: Good God! How did she come to know that?

NE: A member of the War Cabinet told her at a cocktail party.

SO: Who was that?

NE: I'd prefer not to say.

SO: Then what about your father?

NE: He thinks I am a spy.

SO: Why should he think that?

NE: Because the Chief told him in the bar at White's.

Aside from these pleasantries, we are given the true background to the Crabbe affair, comment on the Vatican, two Foreign Secretaries -- Eden and Bevin (of whom he could not speak more highly), Levantine skullduggery, Berne and skiing, a penetrating study of Jim Angleton, much warmth about Stormin' Norman and some final reflections on Kim Philby, for Nicholas was the last man to see him in Beirut before he skipped over the border on his way to Moscow.

But there is much more, including the Bus Driver's Prayer -- so all that remains to be done is go out and buy this splendid little book. We had hoped he would produce yet more gems from his observant little eye. Sadly, however, Nicholas Elliott has died since this review was written.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Contemporary Review Company Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Lee, Peter
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1994
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