If you’ve ever seen one of the James Bond films you’ve probably been caught up in the intrigue of the MI6. However, the reality is that most of us know very little about the inner working of the organisation, but Keith Jeffery’s MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 is about to change that, up to a point.
The first thing you find out when you look a little closer at the MI6 is that it isn’t actually called MI6 internally, it’s real name is the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and its existence wasn’t officially acknowledged until 1994.
The date range of the book, 1909-1949, means that it will focus on the beginnings of the SIS, spinning together the history of espionage in the first half of the 20th Century. Taking in 2 world wars and the first murmurings of the cold war, it’s bound to be filled with insight into how MI6 contributed to world peace as well as international friction.
The potentially more shady aspects of the MI6 that have become synonymous with the latter half of the 20th century are obviously not going to feature, so the full story of MI6’s involvement in the surge and decline of the Cold War will not get a public airing. However, there should be enough range to include a good amount of info on Kim Philby and the rest of the infamous Cambridge spy ring.
While a big part of me thinks that nations in general waste a lot of time, effort and money on some types of espionage activity (e.g. the New York spy ring of recent notoriety), there’s also a part of me that will always be taken in by the intrigue, gadgetry and daring that has come to embody the Intelligence world in popular culture. In MI6 The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949, Keith Jeffery gives us a chance to read the truth about what we believe. Released September 2010 in hardback.