Coming to Clarity

The Pursuit of Intelligence History: Methods, Sources, and Trajectories in the United Kingdom

Christopher R. Moran

This article is an overview of the history of the academic study of intelligence in the United Kingdom since 1945, a time marked by three distinctive periods of historiography. Each, labeled here as Absence, Emergence, and Efflorescence, contained unique themes and approaches to intelligence history as it has been practiced in Britain.

Clarity has come to intelligence history much like the restoration of an aged fresco in which hidden details are gradually revealed through repeated cleansings until a full-bodied picture emerges. Attempts to establish the history of British intelligence have ranged greatly in style and quality, from the lurid works served up by the media and by the purveyors of conspiracy theory (appropriately described by Nicholas Hiley as “lightweight meals that sit so heavily on the stomach”),1 to the tomes, written by official historians and born of patient work in archives and historical scholarship.

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Posted: Jul 06, 2011 07:02 PM
Last Updated: Jul 06, 2011 07:02 PM