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Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War, and the Twilight of Empire
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Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War, and the Twilight of Empire

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  76 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Against the backdrop of the Cold War and the looming specter of Soviet dominance in Britain's dwindling colonial possessions, the imperial intelligence service MI5 played a crucial but virtually unseen role in tipping the scales in favor of America and her allies. Working clandestinely behind the scenes, MI5 operatives helped to prop up newly independent states across the ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published November 14th 2013 by The Overlook Press (first published March 1st 2012)
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Feb 10, 2017 Conor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting look at the role of Britain's secret services in the withdrawal from Empire. Covering all the major regions of the empire over the course of the Cold War, as Great Britain was forced through a combination of factors to decrease their presence in territories across the globe, Walton explores the parallels between each case. He highlights the ways in which the Service continually failed to learn from previous mistakes, and was forced to learn the same lessons again and again acr ...more
Hank Waggy
Feb 17, 2014 Hank Waggy rated it really liked it
Empire of Secrets plows through virgin territory, summarizing previously undisclosed intelligence files related to Britain's retreat from empire. Starting at the conclusion of World War II and covering the independence of Israel, Malaysia, Ghana, Kenya, Cyprus and Yemen, Calder Walton documents the recurring problems faced by Britain's intelligence agencies through the 1950s and 1960s. First, Britain routinely under-resourced intelligence efforts in its colonies and thus failed to provide decisi ...more
A good book, which definitely could be used as an introduction to Christopher Andrew's official history of MI5, as Walton's narrative can at times focus heavily on MI5 and cover the same ground in more detail. However this is not a major issue, as the author explains the MI5 files are some of the few archives that have been released to the public. This book certainly provides more context to the retreat from empire and should definitely be on the shelves of those interested in the end of empire.
Jan 20, 2014 Yokosuka14 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Good book, within its limitations. Should have been subtitled, "The role of MI5 in British Decolonization," as there was little Cold War info beyond fears that nationalist leaders were Communist sympathizers. The book is also limited by the available sources, which the author frequently notes. Sometimes the author uses the limited available info in interesting ways, other times, he makes an analytic leap too far ( The British warned the French in 1956 that their codes were insecure, therefore th ...more
Good book, although it does trot over the entire Middle East in around a hundred pages or so, when more detail would have been appreciated. It's probably because of the paucity of released documents though.
Sean Vangordon
Jan 25, 2015 Sean Vangordon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really excited to pick this book up, and I found the experience underwhelming. Overall, it is interesting material, but it isn't presented in a compelling way. I found myself dreading picking the book back up to read it. Unimpressed.
Apr 03, 2013 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting book looking at intelligence services of Britain and its empire from WW1 to the withdrawal of Britain from rhoadesia and the failings in the cold war era
Vikas Datta
Mar 20, 2014 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite comprehensive account of the last gasps of the British Empire and how it maintained its influence (or tried to) after relinquishing power...
Dec 15, 2016 Dоcтоr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good history book about British Intelligence services.
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