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Christopher Andrew has excelled himself in the daunting task of cataloging and critiquing the first century of MI5's work in the UK and around the Commonwealth.
I found the tone both entertaining and witty. This book could have so easily been either too dry or, even worse, too trashy and "spy thriller" like. Thankfully, Defend the Realm is neither. It is, instead, filled with insightful analysis and intriguing new information.
I do have two minor criticisms, however. Firstly, one of the middle sections - dedicated to the Service's role in the break up of the Empire - drags on a little. MI5 did very similar things in almost all newly independent countries and the repetition becomes a little stale. Lastly, the final section on the Service's modern day responsibilities (counter-terrorism) is all too brief. Sadly, this is unavoidable due to the sensitive nature of the book and Andrew Explains this in the foreword.
I would highly recommend Defend the Realm, especially to those interested in 20th century history and most of all those interested in the role of espionage in both World Wars and the Cold War. You will be surprised at all that the Service has achieved and entertained by a brilliant writing style.
I would like to also commend Robin Sachs reading. His voice adds greatly to the success of the audio-book, despite his occasional accents.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Where does Defend the Realm rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Defend the realm is an unique kind of book. It is a very informative, to the point of being a bit droll at times, but at the same time, it manages to capture the feeling of camraderie and adventure that it describes being present in Mi5. When I finished the book, I felt like I had just finished a career at Mi5 (and not just because of the book's length!), and felt nostalgia for times past.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The feelings of victory at the end of world war one and two were conveyed adeptly to the reader, and they were touching to me.
Any additional comments?
The narrator does a fantastic job of sounding both professional and interesting, which is very much in the spirit of this book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful