“Unprecedented” history of MI5 to be published in October

Dr. Andrew

Dr. Andrew

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The MI5, Britain’s foremost counterintelligence organization, made headlines in 2002, when it appointed Cambridge University history Professor Christopher Andrew to produce an authorized account of its long history. Now book publishers Penguin Group have announced that the book, titled Defense of the Realm, is to be published by Allen Lane in October 2009, in time to mark the agency’s centennial. Professor Andrew is well known for his considerable contributions to intelligence history scholarship, which include Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions (1991, with Oleg Gordievsky), For The President’s Eyes Only (1995), and of course The Mitrokhin Archive (1991, with Vasili Mitrokhin). Penguin has described Defense of the Realm as “unprecedented” and claims that “no major intelligence organization in the world has ever let an independent historian into its archives in this way” (though James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets may object to this). Penguin publishing director Stuart Proffitt has said that MI5 allowed Professor Andrew “to see every file he has requested” from the agency’s historical archive, mostly up to 1990. In return, the author complied with MI5’s request that the book be “written and edited on MI5 premises” and that “the text not be permitted to leave the building”, an issue that has aroused skepticism in some academic quarters. Defense of the Realm is one of at least three books published this year to mark the centenary of both MI5 and MI6. The other two are an authorized history (from 1909 to 1949) of MI6 by Professor Keith Jeffery, of Queen’s University, Belfast, and Gordon Thomas’ Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence, which intelNews has received and will be reviewing shortly.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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