An intelligence agency exposé so explosive that the British government tried to stop its publication or the first time ever, MI6, Britain's legendary player at the chessboard of international intelligence-gathering, is revealed in fascinating detail. Fifteen years of painstaking and meticulous research on the notoriously elusive organization comes together in a vivid and shocking portrait that differs radically from the sleek and flawless fictionalized portraits of Her Majesty's Secret Service. This no-holds-barred exposé of the agency's operations and methods describes in riveting detail its impact on the history and politics of the last half century. Stephen Dorril's daring and prodigious research has unearthed startling information, including:
• The recruitment of assets and agents of influence around the world
• MI6's relationships with national leaders, including Nelson Mandela
• A secret deal between London and Washington to keep British troops out of Vietnam
• Details about failed plots to assassinate Nasser, Milosevic, and Gaddifi
• Why MI6 was unable to provide advance warning of the Iranian Revolution or Argentina's plan to invade the Falklands
• MI6's operations to bring Nazi collaborators and war criminals to Britain after the war
MI6 lifts the veil surrounding the closely guarded espionage efforts that have shaped and continue to affect our world for better...and for worse.
Amazon.com Review MI6, the foreign section of Great Britain's intelligence service, began life early in the 20th century with the charge of keeping tabs on "Red Russia," and, soon thereafter, on Nazi Germany. Less effective during World War II than its American counterpart, the Office of Strategic Services, MI6 came into its own during the cold war, when Britain's spymasters recruited bright young public-school intellectuals to play a modern version of the Great Game against their Soviet counterparts in the KGB and thwart Communist ambitions around the globe.
The Soviets, writes English historian Stephen Dorril, were often a step ahead, helped along by British turncoats like Kim Philby, who provided Stalin with the names of MI6 operatives and later defected. And, like the CIA, the agents of MI6 were obsessed with conjuring elaborate schemes, including plots to assassinate Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser (with poisoned chocolates) and Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic (by means of a carefully engineered car crash). Busy planning elaborate endings to their enemies' lives, the British spies failed to comprehend important developments as they were happening, from the Belgrade-Moscow split of the late 1940s to the collapse of the Soviet bloc in the late 1980s.
Such failures, lapses, and scandals have led to repeated calls for dismantling the agency, especially now that the cold war has ended. Even so, Dorril writes, MI6 enjoys a privileged position within the British government and is unlikely to see meaningful reform. Readers who know of British spydom only through the surprisingly accurate James Bond novels of Ian Fleming will find Dorril's densely detailed, often scathingly critical book to be an eye-opener. --Gregory McNamee