Noël Annan, 17 October 1985
Show More Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5Show More
The Secret Generation by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2Show More
Two Thyrds by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9Show More
The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4Show More
“... No wonder people think of the secret services as farce or fiction. What is one to make of an organisation whose leaders have names like Dummy Oliver, Blinker Hall, Biffy Dunderdale, Lousy Payne, Buster Milmo, Pay Sykes, Tar Robertson, Barmy Russel and Quex Sinclair (not to be confused with his successor but one, Sinbad Sinclair)? It’s no good reassuring the reader that in the transition from Victorian days, when men called even their closest friends by their surnames, to the present time, when not to know the first name of a casual acquaintance makes it almost impossible to address him without appearing pompous or supercilious, nicknames like Stubby, Toby or Tubby came to be used as a gesture to informality, particularly in the Army and Navy ...”