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The Art of Betrayal: The Secret History of MI6: Life and Death in the British Secret Service Hardcover – January 9, 2013
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“His analysis is shrewd, his judgement sound...(the book's) strength is to present stories of the secret service's successes and failures within the political and strategic context of the times.” (The Sunday Times)
“Corera, the BBC's security correspondent, has enjoyed privileged access to key spy players from the past few decades and, writing in an engaging style, he picks up the story of the MI6 at the point where the "official" history grinds to a halt after the Second World War.” (The Sunday Express)
“As a good journalist and a reader of spy novels, Corera presents his material as fast-paced stories, from the covert diplomacy of the Cold War to recent and current security concerns in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and he humanizes the grand dramas of a duplicitous trade.” (The Times (London))
“Highly readable and well-researched account of the Service...Let's hope the current generation of spooks has learnt from past mistakes.” (The Daily Telegraph)
“A superb new history of British intelligence.” (The Evening Standard)
“The best post-1949 account of British intelligence I have read. This is as good as it gets.” (Alan Judd - The Spectator)
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Top Customer Reviews
But soon enough we are given characters with dramatic arcs. A single example: Kim Philby, a mole in MI6, a counter-counter agent. During his career he was both inducted as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire as well as honored by the Soviets, for whom he was ultimately working, who put his picture on a postage stamp. Although the author goes to great pains to distinguish the real MI6 from it's fictional equivalent, there is still enough drama here which might slide into the melodramatic, or even unbelievable, were the author not to adopt a tone scrubbed of anything that might be read as sensationalistic. After all, one dictator, before he was overthrown, is made to eat his own beard, and the KGB poisons a critic of Putin with plutonium in a cup of tea.
But mostly, intelligence gathering is just that: gathering, not acting upon, intelligence.Read more ›
The Art of Betrayal is an astonishing depiction of the day to day failings of the intelligence community. They stumble, they fumble, they make it up as they go along, but mostly, they accomplish essentially nothing. Along the way, they betray colleagues, friends, family, and of course, their countries. And still they make no difference to history.
For decades it seemed their primary objective was to get civil servants and spies from the other side to betray their country. Yet they were beside themselves at the thought of it happening among their own. But of course it did, and The Art of Betrayal depicts decades of such betrayal, and all the resources and manpower it took to pull it off or detect it, neutralize it or exploit it. The details are exquisite.
MI6 began in 1909, aimlessly counting things: trains, people, cargo. "Much of the routine work of MI6 was a form of glorified trainspotting." Before World War I, people were paid, for example, to help determine German naval strength by strolling around harbors and noting the vessels there.
Yet 45 years later, when it came to intelligence from inside the USSR, the USA and the UK both had "absolutely nothing".Read more ›
The author's style can be difficult to follow smoothly at times inasmuch as he tends to jump about with some elements and incidents--gets a bit disjointed with names popping up and down--but for the sake all else, it's an excellent look behind the scenes that truly paints the reality of our various society's utter fragility.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A truly fascinating history or British MI-6. This fills in a lot of blanks on very recent history and why the world is as it is.Published 2 months ago by mllcpa
Great synopsis of some of the most famous true spy stories.Published 10 months ago by Robert J. Dukelow
Fascinating stuff - a page turner. It reads almost like a novel and is brimming with interesting stories of who spied for who, what came of them, mole hunting, espionage - exactly... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Chris_Carlisle
Nice to get the inside poop on spycraft world. A good deal is about CIA also.Published 14 months ago by Jim Wendling
For all the ups and downs in the world of espionage I thought the book finished on a very note illustrating the efforts confronting today's spies regarding the collection of... Read morePublished 14 months ago by L. Clark