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The Secret Agent: The True Story of the Special Operations Executive

3.5 (1937)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Secret Agent: The True Story of the Special Operations Executive.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    David Stafford(Author)

    Book details

In June 1940 Britain was driven from the continent by Hitler's conquering armies. As the British stared invasion in the face, a group of unconventional warriors planned a new form of warfare—and the Special Operations Executive was born. With a brief from Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze," this top-secret agency was given the dangerous task of coordinating subversion and sabotage against the enemy by all means necessary— using disguise, deception, bribery, explosives (sometimes disguised inside objects such as a dead rat or a chianti bottle), guerrilla warfare—and even assassination.

The intriguing details of the men and women—many of them civilians with no qualifications or experience—who risked their lives to fight this secret war are recounted here. Through the personal reminiscences of these courageous individuals, Secret Agent reveals the covert world of the SOE: how the operatives were recruited; the daring operations they carried out; the radio and coding systems that kept them in touch with London; and the James Bond-style gadgets designed to help them carry out their missions. Breaking their long silence, these brave survivors finally tell their own stories in their own words. More than just a war-time thriller, Secret Agent narrates the true story of this remarkable group of people and the secret war they waged behind enemy lines.

With James Bondesque devices, disguise and sabotage, secret agents became Britain's weapon against Germany after Britain's troops were forced off the continent. In Secret Agent: The True Story of the Special Operations Executive's Covert War Against Hitler, British wartime intelligence operations expert David Stafford (Churchill and the Secret Service, etc.) gives a thorough history of the British government's subversions of German incursions. The book, which includes a map and 38 b&w photographs, accompanies a BBC documentary produced last spring. When Britain had its back against the wall after the fall of France in the summer of 1940, it organized the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to conduct intelligence operations and guerrilla warfare against the powerful Axis forces that occupied Europe. This easy-to-read work recounts the history of its establishment, the intense bureaucratic infighting over its leadership, and the hazardous missions its agents undertook around the world. Numerous excerpts from veterans' memoirs are interwoven throughout the text to provide a human flavor to what could have been a dry recitation of events. A former diplomat and project director at the Centre for Second World War Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, Stafford wrote this book to accompany last summer's BBC2 television series on the same topic. This work nicely complements Stafford's earlier Britain and European Resistance, 1940-45 (o.p.). Suitable for the World War II collections in public and academic libraries, where it should be placed alongside M.R.D. Foot's SOE in France (o.p.). Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

4.4 (9666)
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Book details

  • PDF | 254 pages
  • David Stafford(Author)
  • Overlook Hardcover; 1st Us Edition edition (October 1, 2001)
  • English
  • 3
  • Biographies & Memoirs

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Review Text

  • By John Plowright on August 17, 2017

    Military necessity is the mother of invention and the Special Operations Executive (SOE), dedicated to intelligence gathering, sabotage, subversion and the creation and support of armed resistance movements in German- (and later Japanese) occupied countries, was brought into being by Churchill in July 1940, when there seemed little way of carrying the war to Germany, after the Fall of France, other than by bombing, which was notoriously imprecise.However, just as debate rages regarding the efficacy of the strategic bombing offensive, historians dispute whether the resources applied to SOE might have made a greater contribution to ultimate victory if applied to more conventional warfare. There is even a case for saying that by assisting communists, in places such as Malaya, SOE actually damaged British interests in the longer term. Either way, the role of SOE is a subject that merits attention from anyone interested in the Second World War and its aftermath, or simply interested in spying.Since the death, in 2012, of M.R.D. Foot, himself an intelligence officer and SOE’s official historian, David Stafford has become the greatest expert on the organization. Foot’s ‘SOE. An Outline History of the Special Operations Executive 1940-1946’, with an introduction by Stafford, still represents the best introduction to the subject but ‘Secret Agent. The True Story of the Special Operations Executive’, a new edition of the book which Stafford originally published in 2000, to accompany the BBC2 series of the same title, offers a very readable overview, which not only shows a complete mastery of the literature but incorporates extensive quotations from many of those actively involved in SOE activities.

  • By pwd on February 18, 2016

    This is one the most heart-pounding, suspenseful, true accounts of the Secret Service in WW2 and the gadgets, hidden weapons, codes, and some very, very close calls with the opposition that will have wondering how the heroes in question will get out of certain situations. This may put the reader in the protagonist's conundrum and tension, causing the reader's pulse to race and feel that they are with the Secret Agents all the way.

  • By Jerry Gilbert on August 22, 2017

    To bad we don't teach this kind of history in our schools. Most of today's youth have no idea of WWII. Our books used in our schools today are a joke.

  • By Christopher on February 18, 2002

    Either the author doesn't know about any successful missions, can't disclose them, or there weren't any because the entire book is about failed sabotage, agents dying because of bungling, and ineffective missions. I kept waiting for something good to happen and it never did. 90% of the text is dedicated to the backgrounds of the agents and bad training camps in Britain. If you want juicy stories of bravery, success and competence by secret agents don't buy this book.

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