Critical acclaim for The Secret War

Hailed as ‘the best single volume yet written on the subject’ by the Sunday Times, Max’s new book, The Secret War, is an instant number one Sunday Times bestseller. Here are some of the fantastic reviews so far:

‘As gripping as any spy thriller … Hastings understands, better than any previous historian, that this is as much a story about human nature as it is about the mechanics of code-breaking or spycraft he has the novelist’s eye for the telling detail … this book works because Hastings is simply a very fine writer who is not afraid of making judgements … Hastings’s achievement is especially impressive, for he has produced the best single volume yet written on the subject’
Lawrence Rees, Sunday Times

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‘This is his war and he writes with an easy assurance, scatter-gunning opinions … Hastings is on form. He has set out to provide thought and discussion and, with his familiar robustness, shotgun at side, he has succeeded’
The Times

‘Authoritative, exciting and notably well written’
Daily Telegraph

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‘A serious work of rigorous and comprehensive history … royally entertaining and readable’
Mail on Sunday
‘Vintage Hastings: a vivid cast of characters, social observation and opinions forcefully expressed … Given the national fixation with spies and special forces, Hastings’s book is a very necessary corrective’
Standard Evening 
‘There is plenty … here to keep even the most war-jaded reader entertained. His great strength is to use his formidable journalistic talents to bring alive a cast of characters who operated in the shadow and it is the mark of an author at the top of his game that he is able to keep a multiplicity of narratives running without causing confusion’
Country Life

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‘In a quarter-century of reviewing books on intelligence in these pages and elsewhere THE SECRET WAR ranks foremost. His massive overview is a fascinating look at the dark world of espionage and dirty tricks that are a part of warfare, with terse and readable looks at spies, communications intercepts and guerrillas’
Washington Times
‘A marvellous and sweeping narrative of this aspect of the war, seeking not only to correct many myths and false histories, but offer a balanced assessment of what spies and covert operatives actually accomplished in the war … This book is highly recommended as a single overarching volume on World War II espionage and covert action that has long been missing from the war’s historiography’
New York Journal of Books
‘A real page turner … chapters blend first-rate reportage, finely chiselled portraits and in-depth research.  They brim with true tales of sacrifice and petty-mindedness, miraculous breakthroughs and cynical betrayal’
New York Times    

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‘These accounts show the reality of military life ... A pointillist portrait of enthralling sensitivity ... stories tumble from the pages of this book like gems from a pirate’s chest ... The anecdotes about female soldiers in this book are fascinating’Gerard DeGroot, The Times Read More


First published in The Times on Saturday, 13 November 2021.Tomorrow the Queen will forsake her enforced rest to attend the annual Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph [this was published before her last-minute withdrawal].  It is an occasion that she views with a special sense of duty, because of her… Read More