Churchill and Secret Service /

"Traces Churchill's connections with the world of intelligence, from his days as a member of the Cabinet that established the Secret Service to the war years, when his extensive intelligence network provided him with superior information--the brilliant pay-off for his years of nurturing th...

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Main Author: Stafford, David. (Author)
Format: Book
Published:Woodstock, N.Y. : Overlook Press, 1998.
Edition:1st ed.
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this revealing study, British historian Stafford draws on recently released British secret service archives and Churchill's own papers to lay bare his long-time involvement in covert actions and intelligence gathering. As a soldier in Afghanistan and in the Boer War, the future prime minister was impressed by the value of intelligence work, notes the author. Haunted by the prospect of a German invasion assisted by enemy agents, Churchill, as home secretary between 1910 and 1915, helped build Britain's secret service. Stafford claims that during the 1930s, Churchill set up a private network of informants whose spy-catching efforts rivaled those of the government. He makes a compelling case that Churchill was the principal architect of the Anglo-American web of secret agreements between the two countries' intelligence services during WWII. Stafford then shows how Churchill worked with Eisenhower's CIA to overthrow Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mussadiq in 1953 after the latter nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Packed with incredible plots and counterplots, this study maps the creation of the world's postwar geopolitical landscape. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Former diplomat Stafford compellingly tells the fateful story of Winston Churchill's lifelong obsession with intelligence and secret warfare, which had both trivial and large-scale consequences for the British from the Boer War through the 1950s. From the outset of his colorful multiple career as an imperial officer, journalist, man of letters, and statesman, Churchill evinced a romantic fascination with the arcana of secret intelligence work. Stafford, an intelligence historian (The Silent Game, not reviewed), traces this fixation to a brief 1895 stint in Cuba, where Churchill covered the rebellion against Spain for a British newspaper. At once idealizing and fearing the rebels, Churchill saw for the first time the effects of a popular insurrection fought by guerrillas: The rebels, who had perfect intelligence of Spanish locations and operations, often fought with an insurmountable advantage over the unwieldy government forces. Churchill had similar reactions to other guerrilla tactics he observed or experienced, whether in Ireland in the troubles of 1916-21 or by anticommunist forces against the Bolshevik regime in the early 1920s; guerrillas, cloaked in secrecy and backed by popular support, were able to win wars against numerically superior conventional opponents through superior intelligence and covert activities. During WW I he founded the first signals intelligence organization, and after the collapse of the tsarist regime he became deeply involved in the ultimately disastrous anticommunist activities of master spy Sidney Reilly. It was as a wartime prime minister, however, that Churchill's concern with spying had the most concrete effect: He forged an important intelligence alliance with the US, oversaw Britain's ""Ultra"" operation, which brilliantly intercepted the communications of the Nazi command, and founded the Special Operations Executive, which ran daring operations in Nazi-occupied Europe, gave aid to resistance movements across Europe, and ultimately engendered Britain's modern intelligence apparatus. A first-rate and, what is more remarkable, an original contribution to Churchilliana, of sure interest to students of Churchill, modern history, or military intelligence. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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