Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Britain's spy secrets revealed

Wednesday Sep 22, 2010 - NZ Herald website
Author Keith Jeffery with the first-ever official history of MI6. Photo / AP
It's James Bond, with bureaucracy and cramped office space.

The first-ever official history of MI6 reveals that Britain's foreign spy agency debated assassinating Nazi leaders, landed a spy wearing a wetsuit over his tux at a casino by the sea and experimented with exploding filing cabinets.
The agency also wrangled with other government departments and had to make do on a shoestring budget.

The book, published in the UK today, tells a story of plots, paperwork, duplicity and bravado that takes in fears of a Nazi anthrax attack, cross-dressing secret agents and worries about the safety of the prime minister's milk supply.

"The real James Bonds are more interesting than the fictional James Bond," said author Keith Jeffery, a historian at Queen's University Belfast, who had access to previously secret files in the MI6 archive. "They are male and female. They are real people. They have real frailties and real courage."

They are, often, larger than life: figures like Wilfred "Biffy" Dunderdale, a Russian-speaking MI6 agent in Paris between the world wars, whom Jeffery said had "a well-known penchant for pretty girls and fast cars, and terrific savoir-faire."
Full AP story at NZH.

The book will be available here in October, rrp $75.00 -  NZ distributors are Allen & Unwin.

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