The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf
Intelligence in Recent Public Literature
Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake
Christopher Andrew, Richard J. Aldrich, and Wesley K. Wark (eds.), Secret Intelligence: A Reader (New York: Routledge, 2008), 552 pp., end of chapter notes, index.
The preface to this valuable volume asserts that with the end of the Cold War “policymakers and intelligence aristocrats [undefined] bought into fashionable theories about ‘democratic peace’ and the ‘end of history’… [becoming] convinced they were entering a new and tranquil era.” Thus, they turned their attention to economic espionage, ignoring terrorism. Whoever these thinkers might be, they apparently haven’t considered the writings of Michael Scheuer, whose Through Our Enemies Eyes suggests the opposite was the case.1
As the editors of this volume note, the reality of “recent events have prompted academics in departments of history, politics and international relations to contemplate teaching intelligence for the first time.” Toward that end, they have brought together 30 contributors — 20 academics, 10 intelligence officers — who connect some of the classic intelligence literature “with writings on new developments.” (xvii)
The contributions are separated into four parts. The first deals with the intelligence cycle. It includes a discussion of CIA culture and the interaction of collection and analysis, the role of SIGINT, the importance of open sources, analysis, and a discussion of the producer-consumer relationship. The final article in this part, by Sir Stephen Lander, former director-general of MI5, discusses the role and value of liaison or international cooperation among intelligence services. It is a topic not often raised in a public forum and in this case broaches some important issues — a treaty among nations not usually part of such an arrangement — that would change the conventional approach to the subject. The second part deals with counterterrorism, security, and counterintelligence. Part three looks at ethics, accountability, control, plus torture and assassination. Part four, “Intelligence and the New Warfare,” considers covert action, military intelligence and deception, counterinsurgency, and peacekeeping and peacemaking intelligence. Not all the articles are new, but each is worthwhile.
University of Toronto history professor Wesley Wark contributes a concluding essay, “Learning to Live with Intelligence,” that is thoughtful and attention-grabbing. He argues that “public intelligence will require a new public outlook on intelligence.” And to reach this goal, he echoes the theme of the Reader: “The future of intelligence requires a discovery of the past.” (522)
The value of the Reader is enhanced by the inclusion of “essay questions” at the end of many of the articles, some of which challenge positions taken by other contributors. Whether viewed as a text or a source for stimulating thought on modern intelligence issues, Secret Intelligence is an important compendium and should be consulted by all concerned with the profession.
Edward F. Mickolus, Terrorism 2005–2007: A Chronology (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008), bibliography, subject, name, country and date indices.
Since 1980, former CIA officer Edward Mickolus has periodically published a chronology of terrorist attacks that, with the present volume, cover the period 1960–2007. His criteria for selecting events to mark are acts that involve “the use or threat of use of violence by any individual or group for political purposes.” (ix) Each volume begins with a chronological listing of incidents by country. These are followed by a section of updates, which in the current volume provide follow-up details “first reported prior to 1 January 2005.” (x) These include, for example, material on the outcome of trials not completed when the previous volume went to press. The third section contains a bibliography, grouped by topic areas, of writings that provide further details on the entries in the incidents section. The events chronicled in the incidents section do not include the source of its data. For this information one can refer to the bibliography or Google. The three indices allow one to look for incidents by subject, name, country, and date. The result is a relatively comprehensive chronological catalogue of terrorist acts.
A digital version of the entire database is available for those who wish to search using criteria other than those in the three indices. For example suicide bomber incidents or specific organizations are available.2 For a quick assessment of domestic and international terrorist acts during this period, from which students and analysts can ascertain patterns of events and perpetrators, the Mickolus chronology is the place to start.[Top of page]
Richard C. S. Trahair and Robert C. Miller, Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations, (New York: Enigma Books, 2009), 2nd edition updated, 572 pp., glossary, chronology, index.
Richard Trahair is a social research adviser and consulting psychologist at La Trobe University near Melbourne, Australia. His coauthor is the editor of Enigma Books. The first edition of his encyclopedia was reviewed in Studies in 2005 and given poor marks for the number of errors it contained, especially since it was “intended as a useful tool to support espionage studies.”3 This updated and revised edition repeats that intention and the authors write that “the facts have been checked as thoroughly as possible.” (xxviii) But, while some corrections have indeed been made, inexplicably far too many remain, including that dreadful oxymoron, “defector-in-place.” Other examples are the factual errors in the sections on Philby and Blunt (not Blount as in the text ) and Bentley (18), to name just two. Moreover, with the exception of Israel, most Middle Eastern countries are still excluded, as is China.
There are three positive features about this work. First, it has an interesting review of the intelligence literature. Second, the chronology has been updated. Third, and most important, the sources arer cited after each of the several hundred entries. But had the contents of the entries been closely checked against the sources, the errors would have been exposed.
Thus while the authors deserve credit for an improved edition, readers are cautioned to check the facts in any entry of interest against the sources provided rather than assume their accuracy.
Glenmore S. Trenear-Harvey, Historical Dictionary of Air Intelligence (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press), 219 pp., bibliography, appendix, chronology, index.
Former RAF intelligence officer and jet fighter pilot, Glenmore Trenear-Harvey, has assembled a survey of air intelligence entries — broadly construed — that cover the origins of the discipline to the present. The approximately 500 entries include a selection of topics that embrace air operations in war, aircraft types, satellite and fixed-wing reconnaissance, security services, spy cases, performance studies, organizations, sabotage operations, various codenames linked to air intelligence operations, and some of the participants involved.
While some of the entries, for example, the U-2 and the C-30 Hercules aircraft, are well known, many will be unfamiliar. This raises a major deficiency common to the entire Historical Dictionary series: there are no sources for the entries. Had they been required, describing the codeword KEYHOLE as an Air Force rather than a CIA designation could have been avoided. Likewise, differences in the entry for the BYEMAN codeword with those provided in other sources might have been explained.4 Thus the reader is cautioned to seek further confirmation before relying on any given entry.
There are a few factual errors in the introduction. For example, the claim that “the first dedicated air reconnaissance missions were undertaken in 1870 during the siege of Paris” using tethered balloons ignores that fact that balloons were used for that purpose during the American Civil War.5 With regard to WW II, there was no “entirely bogus assembly of infantry, artillery, tanks and landing craft in Southeast England.” (212) The deception in that case was confined to landing craft at the ports and specious order-of-battle data communicated via SIGINT.6 And members of WW II infantry units might take issue with the claim that “WW II was fought very largely in the air.” (xxv) Finally, the allied troops occupied Iraq in 2003, not 2002. (88)
Overall, this historical dictionary provides a conditionally useful introduction to a subject not previously treated in this format.[Top of page]
Neal Bascomb, Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), 390 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
During WW II, Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann arranged for the collection and shipment of thousands of Jews to concentration camps, where most died. At the end of the war Eichmann disappeared, but the Israelis never stopped looking for him. The story of the clandestine operation that found, captured, and exfiltrated Eichmann from Argentina to Israel in May of 1960 has been told before, three times by participants in the operation. The most famous account was The House on Garibaldi Street by the team leader and head of Mossad, Isser Harel. Peter Malkin, the man who physically grabbed Eichmann told his story in Eichmann In My Hands. The subtitle of Zvi Aharoni’s book, Operation Eichmann: The Truth About the Pursuit, Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann hints at a controversy that arose among the three authors.7 Malkin writes that it was he who convinced Eichmann to sign a statement indicating he was willingly going to Israel. Not so says Aharoni, who challenged Malkin’s account on that and other points as inaccurate and self-serving. Harel sided with Malkin. Author Neil Bascomb reviewed all the documentation, interviewed participants, and takes a firm position in Hunting Eichmann.
But that is not all that is new in the book. With the help of the Argentines, Bascomb obtained the passport Eichmann used — under the name Roberto Klement — when he escaped Europe, and it is reproduced in the endpapers. From primary sources in various archives, Bascomb tells how Eichmann escaped after the end of the war, how he ended up in Argentina after being captured twice and imprisoned by the US Army, and who helped him.
Another noteworthy aspect of the book is Bascomb’s attention to the operational details, both planning and execution. This was the first operation of its kind for the young service and the participants, and it is interesting to read how they adjusted to the mistakes made. The one error Eichmann made, never before explained, is why he allowed his children to use the Eichmann name in Argentina. Had he not done so, as the book makes clear, it is unlikely he would have been found.
Most of the officers involved in the capture of Eichmann went on to higher positions in the Israeli intelligence services and the book’s epilogue gives brief accounts of each. Rafi Eitan, may be remembered for his role on the Jonathan Pollard case. Hunting Eichmann is a fine book, well worth attention.
David Burke, The Spy Who Came in from the Co-op: Melita Norwood and the Ending of Cold War Espionage (Rochester, NY: The Boydell Press, 2008), 209 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
Cambridge University historian David Burke knew Melita Norwood in 1997 as a source for his research on the Russian émigré community in England. Two years later he knew her as a former Soviet spy when she was exposed by retired KGB officer Vasili Mitrokhin in the Times on 11 September 1999. The next day, the 87-year-old Norwood spoke to the press. She admitted the charges, said she did it for ideological reasons, and stated she would do it again under the circumstances. Norwood turned down numerous offers to tell her story for money, but she did tell it to Dr. Burke, whom she had come to trust, on condition that he not publish until after her death.
The Spy Who Came in from the Co-op chronicles the life of the longest serving Soviet agent in British history. Code named Tina, later Hola, Norwood, a communist since 1931, was recruited in 1934. (7) At the time, she was working at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association (BN-FMRA) as a secretary. When the war began, the BN-FMRA was involved in atomic research, and Norwood began passing secrets to her controller, Ursula Kuczynski (Sonja). Burke describes her recruitment in some detail, explaining how, as a daughter of communists who sold the Daily Worker on street corners, escaped exposure despite the fact that the Security Service “connected her with Soviet espionage as early as 1938.” (13) This curious circumstance was repeated in 1965, when “MI5 launched an extended investigation of Mrs. Norwood, … concluding that while she had been a spy in the 1940s,” there was no evidence to support prosecution. Burke concludes that this decision was reached to avoid “exposure of yet another atomic spy.” (163) All this was unknown to Hola, so she continued working and, in 1967, recruited an agent for the Soviets. (164) In 1979 Norwood traveled to the Soviet Union and received the Order of the Red Banner. (164).
As a subplot, the book also provides considerable detail about the Russian émigré community that lived in a now well-known residence for radicals, the Lawn Road Flats. Many of these people were Soviet illegal agents, whose stories he tells. Here we learn about the espionage roles of the Kuczynski family, Arnold Deutsch — principal recruiter of the Cambridge Five — and Andrew Rothstein the man who recruited Norwood.
In 2001, the British again decided not to prosecute the 89-year-old granny, though the decision was not reached without considerable public controversy, as Burke explains. He concludes by suggesting that “millions of Russians probably owe their lives” to her espionage [perhaps a line to explain his explanation for that claim?]. Whether or not this is hyperbole, the story of Melita Norwood is at once peculiarly fascinating and well told.
Harry Ferguson, Operation Kronstadt: The Greatest True Tale of Espionage to Come Out of the Early Years of MI6 (New York: Overlook Press, 2009), 368 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, maps, photos, index.
Sidney Reilly, “Ace of Spies,” escaped to Europe after his failed plot to overthrow the Bolshevik government in August 1918. That same month, Captain Francis Cromie, Naval Intelligence Division (NID), was killed by the Cheka — the Bolshevik security service — in the Petrograd embassy, and his networks went to ground. This left the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6), as it came to be called, with no officers in Russia. But SIS responded quickly and dispatched a recently recruited concert pianist, Paul Dukes — designated ST-25 — to Petrograd in mid-September. His mission: reestablish the disrupted Cromie networks and report Bolshevik civilian and military activity. While the rapid response may now appear as traditional British secret service efficiency, it was entirely coincidental. Moreover, Dukes was given no training, told to create his own cover, get into Russia using his own devices, contact Cromie’s agents — whose names and location he didn’t know — and send their reports to London using couriers he would have to recruit. Although this was his first intelligence assignment, there was some basis for expecting success. Dukes, had lived and trained in St Petersburg, knew the language and the city where he was to operate, and, equally important, he wanted the job. Still this was on-the-job training in the extreme. MI6 did foresee that Dukes would eventually need to get out of Russia and made plans to evacuate him on a Royal Navy ship commanded by Lt. Augustus Agar. After being sworn to secrecy, Agar was told to create a plan to pick up Dukes; he chose an area near the Baltic ocean fortress island of Kronstadt. Dukes accomplished his mission, Agar did not, though not for want of trying. Both men told something of their story in memoirs.8
In Operation Kronstadt, former MI6 officer Harry Ferguson ties the two stories together and adds new details, many of which do not reflect well on the vaunted image of SIS or its first chief, Captain Mansfield Cumming. SIS had struggled during WW I and risked being abolished at its end. Ferguson explains Cumming’s successful efforts to avoid this fate, due largely to Dukes natural abilities and ingenuity. ST-25 had some help from embassy officials in Helsinki, but his support from London headquarters was inept, if not incompetent. Before succumbing to pressure from the Cheka, which eventually penetrated his many networks, Dukes infiltrated the local Communist Party, impersonated a Cheka officer, joined the Red Army and the Comintern, and helped two of his agents escape from Chekist prisons. In the end, Dukes was knighted, the first officer to be so recognized for his operational duties, but he did not remain in SIS. Agar received the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Service Order from the King, and returned to the navy duty. Ferguson’s lively narrative reveals how Dukes eventually escaped Russia and how Agar avoided capture. The book is well documented and pleasure to read.
Michael Holzman, James Jesus Angleton, the CIA, & the Craft of Counterintelligence (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2008), 399 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.
Several authors have published books that purport to tell the story of James Angleton, the chief of the Counterintelligence Staff at CIA from December 1954 to late December 1974. Yale historian Robin Winks covered Angleton’s time at Yale and his OSS years. The others focus on his controversial CI Staff tenure, with David Wise’s Molehunt being the most complete.9
The latest contribution, by independent scholar Michael Holzman, is a somewhat esoteric personal and professional biography lashed together by a social science theory of history and education. In brief, Holzman sees Angleton’s life as a search for historical truth, defined as: “child’s history” or “what is taught in schools,” and “true history” which is secret. (ix-x) His search, Holzman asserts, matured at Yale where it was greatly influenced by the “school of New Criticism,” an objective approach to literature that invoked the concept of ambiguity and suggested that literary works can have multiple simultaneous meanings. (ix-x) Both of these ideas were indeed part of Angleton’s approach to counterintelligence. But Holzman suggests his application of them was corrupted by the Cold War, when “at one point there are children learning a child’s version of history from their teachers,” and “at another point there are, as Senator Church put it, ‘25 years of manipulation by methods that were plainly copied from the KGB: coercion, false propaganda, bribery, abduction, attempted assassination.’ The points are connected; one thing follows from the other.” (6)
This is not light reading and if a connection there be, it is never made clear as Holzman describes Angleton’s personal life and professional career. Concerning the former, there is much that is new, mostly having to do with Angleton’s passion for poetry, the famous poets he knew, and his relationship with his family and his wife Cicely.
There is little new, however, when Holzman turns to Angleton’s career in OSS, his years at the CIA, and his retirement. The overall story is accurate in terms of his assignments, the operations that consumed his attention, and the molehunt controversy that ultimately ended his career. But when Holzman deals with counterintelligence matters he encounters difficulties. Some are relatively minor, as when he gets the dates of Angleton’s service wrong — twice. (xi, 5) Other details involve Kim Philby, whose defection Holzman argues had a major impact on Angleton’s approach to counterintelligence. For reasons not clear, Holzman finds it necessary to recount the Cambridge Five saga, and here he can’t get the facts straight. For example, Graham Greene was not Philby’s deputy, nor did he count himself as Burgess’s “friend to the end” — there is no evidence they ever met. (101) Holzman also credits Burgess with accomplishments performed by others. For example, Burgess did not “bring Philby into the British secret intelligence service,”10 nor did he influence Blunt’s entry into MI5. (104 - 5) When discussing Philby and the VENONA project, Holzman mentions Meredith Gardner, “the FBI’s cryptographic genius, who broke VENONA,” but Gardner worked for the US Army. In a similar vein, Holzman credits Prime Minister Harold Macmillan with exonerating Philby in a 1955 statement to Parliament — Macmillan was foreign secretary at the time. (135) And it was not Roger Hollis of MI5 who sent Nicholas Elliott to Beirut to secure Philby’s confession — MI6 handled that operation. Holzman writes that in 1965 Philby “received recognition for his services in the form of the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Lenin.” — only the former was awarded.11
But the errors are not confined to the British. Turning to Angleton’s CIA service, Holzman writes that in addition to his other intelligence duties he was made “head of the Israeli section of the Directorate of Intelligence” — the Israeli account, as it was then called, was in the Directorate of Plans (now NCS) where Angleton was assigned. (153) And in a statement that is not sourced or elaborated upon, Holzman writes that in 1973, Bill Colby said the Agency was “to cease to worry about vetting its sources,” a most unlikely circumstance which was certainly not obeyed. In a discussion of the FBI-CIA cooperation in the arrest of KGB Col. Rudolf Abel, Holzman hints that the CIA involvement is “perhaps an indicator of illegal domestic surveillance” — a novel but inaccurate thought.
Holzman spends considerable time regurgitating the Church Committee hearings and Angleton’s role in the events the committee made and the molehunt at CIA he engendered. There is nothing new here either, other than Holzman’s view that Angleton was a malevolent instigator of evil acts so abhorrent that a further public airing is needed. To this end he quotes Justice Louis Brandeis: “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.” Angleton, Holzman concludes, “and his colleagues, the ‘like minded men of zeal’ who created the Central Intelligence Agency, forgot this, and for a time liberty itself was the victim. It is a danger that recurs.” (323)
In the end, James Jesus Angleton, the CIA, & the Craft of Counterintelligence is less a biography than a literary vehicle skewed by a preconceived conclusion supported by secondary sources. James Angleton is worthy of a good biography. This isn’t it.
Oleg Kalugin, SPYMASTER: My Thirty-Two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West (New York: Basic Books, 2009), 466 pp., index.
When Oleg Kalugin’s memoirs were first published in 1994, he was a retired KGB major general, a former member of parliament, and a Russian citizen.12 Born in Leningrad under Stalin, his career ended in Moscow under Yeltsin. This revised edition of his book describes the path and events from one era to the other. A new epilogue adds details about his personal life, tells why he sought asylum and became a US citizen in 2003, and gives his assessment of the current Russian government after his trial in absentia for treason 2002.
The other changes in this edition add details to cases he discussed in relatively vague terms in 1994. One case involved a penetration of the National Security Agency he originally described as “a soldier.” Here he identifies the man as Robert Lipka, who was arrested in 1996 and pleaded guilty in 1997. Press speculation at the time — in Moscow and America — linked the clues Kalugin provided to the arrest. In this edition he reveals that Vasili Mitrokhin actually identified Lipka two years before the original Spymaster was published. A second operation in which Kalugin played a direct role was the recruitment and handling of “a valuable American in Vienna,” as he was described in the one paragraph summary in the first edition. Identified here as US Army Col. George Trofimoff, Kalugin adds specifics and tells how he ended up testifying at Trofimoff’s trial. The most controversial case to which he adds details involved the late American journalist and putative KGB agent, I. F. Stone. Kalugin makes clear his views on the subject but they are not likely to satisfy Stone adherents.13
SPYMASTER is the unique story of a former KGB officer who did not defect. It is a valuable Cold War memoir.
Scott C. Monje, The Central Intelligence Agency: A Documentary History (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008), 413 pp., end of chapter notes, bibliography, appendices, index.
A more accurate subtitle to this volume would be A Selected Documentary History. As independent scholar Scott Monje acknowledges in his preface, “the documentary record is not complete.” (vi) In fact, neither the Soviet Union nor the KGB is included. Of the 18 chapters 15 deal with CIA’s domestic activities. The exceptions are concerned with the war on terror, Iraq, and Iran. The introduction describes CIA’s origins and current structure. This is followed by a useful chronology limited by the constraints noted above. Each chapter has a short introduction, with a few paragraphs outlining the themes supported by the documents to follow. For example, chapter 1 looks at the Agency’s charter, beginning with OSS-related documents. It includes pertinent presidential and national security directives. Chapter 5, “Counterintelligence,” deals superficially with the Nosenko case, a security review of a suspect employee, and the Ames case. Nine of the remaining chapters are concerned with the Family Jewels report. Separate chapters look at the Korean War, Cuba, and 9/11. The concluding chapter is a summary of the topics previously covered with a section on “the corrupting influence of secrecy.” (399)
While this book is anything but a CIA history, it does reproduce some informative documents that may be of interest to scholars.
Nicholas Rankin, Churchill’s Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945 (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2008), 466 pp., chapter sources, photos, index.
Sir Winston Churchill is the British counterpart to Abraham Lincoln when it comes to the seemingly endless publication of books about his life. In Churchill’s Wizards, BBC producer-turned-author Nicholas Rankin writes about military deception as influenced by Churchill in and out of government during two world wars. These, Rankin writes, are built on “four pillars: camouflage, propaganda, secret intelligence, and special forces.” (xiii) In 1914, for example, Churchill ordered the creation of a dummy fleet of warships “to baffle and distract enemy aeroplanes and submarines.” (xiii) During WW II the commandos, Special Ooperations Executive (SOE), the Political Warfare Executive (PWE), and SAS were formed under his leadership. But this man of ideas didn’t do the heavy lifting of deception. This was left to some very gifted military and civilian subordinates who Rankin neatly weaves into his story.
Although deception is the common thread, Rankin also provides historical background for the major battles and events he uses to focus on deception. The first half of the book deals with WW I, when forms of deception employing radios, code breaking, and photography were introduced out of battlefield and political necessity. Examples of the latter include camouflage and propaganda, concepts that had yet to appear in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Civilian artists rallied to the call and developed camouflage painting for ships and techniques to fool the new method of intelligence collection, aerial photography. Soldiers created metal trees for vulnerable snipers. Famous writers — John Buchan, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, to name a few — were engaged to create propaganda — the mix of truth and fiction aimed at the home front and the enemy. The story of the German execution of British nurse Edith Cavell for espionage, when all she was doing was helping escaped allied prisoners, was a prime example. The British never admitted that Cavell was, in fact, an agent of British secret service.
In the book’s second half, Rankin describes the application of WW I experiences to more modern warfare. He tells of Dudley Clarke’s work in the North African desert campaigns, the codebreaking successes at Bletchley Park, Operation Mincemeat — the man who never was — the impersonation of General Montgomery prior to the invasion of Europe, and the most famous and effective of all deceptions, BODYGUARD, which convinced the Nazis that the allies would land at Calais, not Normandy. In each of these cases, Rankin identifies those involved, for example, Juan Pujol — Garbo — whose deception messages were crucial to BODYGUARD and to convincing the Nazis that the V weapons or buzz-bombs were landing in areas beyond their targets.
Many of the stories in Churchill’s Wizards have been told before, but Rankin has enhanced them with recently released papers and diaries. It is very good reading and provides an intimate look at the use of deception and those who made it work. This valuable book gives a new perspective to the history of the warfare and deception.[Top of page]
Gordon Thomas, Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6 (New York: St. Martins Press, 2009), 430 pp., bibliography, index.
“What is it about the intelligence world that prompts people to write with such certainty about what they know they do not know?” 14 Former MI6 officer Alan Judd raises this question in his review of Secret Wars wherein he demonstrates Gordon Thomas’s appalling grasp of the subject. Judd cites a few of Gordon’s many errors of omission and commission that deal mainly with British matters. For example, Thomas calls the current head of MI6 the director-general — his title is chief, or “C” (2) — and notes that Stella Rimington, the first woman to become director-general of MI5, “climbed the career ladder at Century House,” the headquarters of MI6 where, of course, MI5 officers do not serve. Continuing, he notes that the 100-year time span is unevenly treated. Many important operations are not even mentioned: the Penkovsky case and the Venlo incident to name two.
What makes this book of particular interest to Americans — in a book nominally about British intelligence, as Judd notes in passing — are the many operations that involved the intelligence services of both countries, and Thomas makes a dazzling muddle of each case he mentions, some of which never happened. In that category, we learn of a wartime trip MI6 Chief Sir Stewart Menzies made to Bern to visit OSS station chief Allen Dulles at a time when the Swiss borders were sealed. (33) Their relationship continued at the Yalta Summit, writes Thomas, and though neither attended, Thomas quotes a conversation between the two. (99 - 100) Later, in the spring of 1951, according to Thomas, Dulles and DCI Walter Bedell Smith flew to London in connection with the hunt for the British mole Donald Maclean, requesting that Maclean be returned to America for questioning. (126) Both the trip and the request are pure fiction. And, despite the volume of documented material devoted to Dulles’s CIA career, he is described in Secret Wars as being involved in CIA’s operations before the 1948 Berlin Blockade — he joined the CIA in 1951. Thomas goes on to describe Dulles as a “committed Anglophobe” from the days he wrote a college paper supporting the Boers of South Africa in their war against Britain. Dulles did write such a paper, 26 pages, when he was seven years old and by the time he published it five decades later, he was hardly an Anglophobe.
Thomas gives similar treatment to another icon of espionage about whom few facts have gone unpublished — Kim Philby. According to Thomas, Philby’s father was knighted — sadly there was no “Sir” Harry Philby. It was Philby too, says Thomas, who contacted Anthony Blunt to warn Maclean he was about to be arrested (126 - 27) — but Burgess did that. Moreover, we learn that Philby had been a member of the Cambridge secret Apostles Society (127), that he defected to the KGB from Britain (125), and that he worked with “FBI agent” Bill Harvey on the Maclean case (130). Phily was never a member of the Apostle’s Society, he defected from London, and Harvey was a CIA officer at the time.
When it comes to describing CIA and its personnel, Thomas doesn’t let up in erring. For example, he states the stars commemorating fallen officers on the marble wall at Headquarters, are inlaid “silver” (218) — they are black; that the biblical quotation from St. John is on a “marble plaque” (219) — it is in the wall; and that the cafeteria is divided to protect officers from being “identified” by visitors (44) — it once was but no longer is. He is no more accurate in claiming that satellite imagery at the National Photographic Interpretation Center enabled technicians “to see the infuriated face of a Soviet general in East Germany when the Berlin airlift started” in 1948 (182) — the first satellites flew in 1961. More surprising, Thomas asserts that DCI Bill Casey “gave a series of interviews” after his retirement, including one to Thomas (200) — Casey fell critically ill in January 1987, while he was in office, and was hospitalized until his death in May. (Author Robert Woodward claimed to have seen him briefly in his hospital room, a claim Casey’s family disputes.) Then there was “the CIA team” that booked a table “at the Au Pied de Cachon, one of the finest restaurants in Georgetown” for KGB defector Vitali Yurchenko. Actually, it was one security officer, and the restaurant never had that reputation. In addition, Thomas includes many imagined quotes.
On the basis of this sampling (fewer than 15 percent of the total factual errors in the book), three observations can be supported. First, no other book on intelligence has as many errors. Second, the facts that are correct are not new. Third, notwithstanding the author’s claim that he was “commended for his sourcing” (401), no source notes are provided. Cambridge Professor Christopher Andrew has written the official history of MI5 to be published later this year. Irish historian Keith Jeffery is writing a parallel volume on MI6, due out next year. Wait for them.[Top of page]
Duane Evans, North from Calcutta (Pecos Moon, LLC, 2009), 360 pp.
When British historian David Stafford was writing his book on the WW II Special Operations Executive (SOE)15 he discovered that some of the officers who volunteered for dangerous work were motivated by the fictional stories of espionage in the books The 39 Steps and Greenmantle by John Buchan. Former CIA officer William Hood, author of Spy Wednesday, writing about the value of “cloak and dagger fiction,” suggests its value is determined by the answer to the question: “Might the story really have happened?”16 North to Calcutta, while total fiction, takes place in a contemporary setting, names actual intelligence services, makes reference to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) attack on Mumbai, and is likely to motivate readers as Buchan did — while answering in the affirmative Hood’s question.
The hero, Tarek Durrani, is a former military officer educated in the West and a major in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. He discovers a terrorist plot to use a suitcase nuclear bomb to blow up a dam in India during a ceremony attended by Pakistani and Indian officials. Blaming India for the carnage, rogue Pakistani army elements would then invade the disputed Indian Kashmir and achieve their long-term goal of total control of the region. At the same time, the terrorists would depose the legitimate government of Pakistan.
How Tarek first gets hints of the plot and how he uses his agents to learn the details is one part of the story. How the Indian security service learns of Tarek’s efforts and works to prevent the disaster is another. The tradecraft employed by both services is basic but realistic. Of course there is a love story woven in, and it has a surprise ending.
Duane Evans, a special forces officer before joining the CIA, draws on his extensive service in South Asia to make North to Calcutta realistic and fast-paced. Former chief of CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Cofer Black calls the book “a great tale of today’s espionage and terror.” At once entertaining and informative, North to Calcutta is an elegant example of espionage fiction.[Top of page]
3 Hayden Peake, “Intelligence Officers’ Bookshelf,” Studies in Intelligence 49, no. 4. Available at https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol49no4/Bookshelf_11.htm
8 Augustus Agar, Baltic Episode: A Classic of Secret Service in Russian Waters (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1963); Sir Paul Dukes, The Story of ST-25: Adventure and Romance in the Secret Intelligence Service in Russia (London: Cassell, 1938). At the same time, the US government was trying to learn what it could of developments in Russia. See: David A. Langbart, “Five Months in Petrograd 1918: Robert W. Imbrie and the US Search for Information in Russia” at https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol-52-no-1/index.html
9 Tom Mangold, Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton: The CIA’s Master Spy Hunter (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991); David Wise, Molehunt: The Secret Search For Traitors That Shattered The CIA (New York: Random House, 1992). CIA’s chief historian is preparing a review of the literature for a forthcoming issue of Studies.[Top of page]
All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the author. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of its statements and interpretations.