The British have some perennial obsessions, Nazis, the monarchy, class and spies being prominent among them. These themes exhaust what passes for seriousness on television, whether in dramas or documentaries, as well as the product of publishers. There is enough human anecdote and eccentricity in Empire of Secrets’s ‘high octane’ narrative to please even the most satiated consumer of such subjects. The book makes some large claims based on the fresh light supposedly shed on decolonisation by recently declassified intelligence reports.
The British took a long time to even admit the existence of intelligence agencies. Nowadays they remain swaddled by carefully selected parliamentary committees consisting of Scottish Labour security hacks and Tories who claim to know about intelligence after nine months spent patrolling puddles in Belfast backstreets in the 1970s, and