An unprecedented publishing event: to mark the centenary of its foundation, the British Security Service, MI5, has for the first time opened its archives to an independent historian. The book reveals the precise role of the Security Service in 20th-century British history, from its foundation by Captain Kell of the British Army in October 1909, through two world wars, up to and including its present roles in counterespionage and counterterrorism.The book also describes how MI5 has been managed, what its relationship has been with government, where it has triumphed, and where it has failed. In all of this, no restriction has been placed on the judgments made by the author.
Defend the Realm also reveals the identities of previously unknown enemies of the United Kingdom whose activities have been uncovered by the Service, adds significantly to our knowledge of many celebrated events and notorious individuals, and definitively lays to rest a number of persistent myths. Above all, it shows the place of this previously extremely secretive organization within the United Kingdom. Few books could make such an immediate and extraordinary increase to our understanding of British history over the past century.
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A very throrough and impartial history.
A read that was both informative and captivating
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.
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.
The narrator does a fantastic job of sounding both professional and interesting, which is very much in the spirit of this book.