The Secret War

In The Secret War’, Max Hastings examines the espionage and intelligence machines of all sides in World War II, and the impact of spies, code-breakers and partisan operations on events. Written on a global scale, the book brings together accounts from British, American, German, Russian and Japanese sources to tell the story of a secret war waged unceasingly by men and women often far from the battlefields but whose actions profoundly influenced the outcome.

Returning to the Second World War for the first time since his best-selling All Hell Let Loose’, Hastings weaves into a big picture’ framework, the human stories of spies and intelligence officers who served their respective masters. Told through a series of snapshots of key moments, the book looks closely at Soviet espionage operations which dwarfed those of every other belligerent in scale, as well as the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park the greatest intelligence achievement of the conflict with many more surprising and unfamiliar tales of treachery, deception, betrayal and incompetence by spies of Axis, Allied or indeterminate loyalty.


‘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 produced the best single volume yet written on the subject’
Lawrence Rees, Sunday Times

‘A total thriller with a full cast of killers, swashbucklers and beautiful adventuresses. The best history of war intelligence yet’
Simon Sebag Montefiore

‘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


Format: eBook
Release Date: 10/09/2015
ISBN: 9780008133023

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Audio Extract: The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939–1945

‘As gripping as any spy thriller, Hastings’s achievement is especially impressive, for he has produced the best single volume yet written on the subject’ Sunday Times Read More

Andrew Lycett reviews The Secret War for The Daily Telegraph

Max Hastings is tickled by the irony that Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician codebreaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, has emerged as a celebrated secret warrior, when until recently he was virtually unknown outside his professional circles. Read More

Sinclair McKay reviews The Secret War for The Spectator

Spying is a branch of philosophy, although you would never guess it from that expression on Daniel Craig's face.   Read More

Guy Walters reviews The Secret War for Country Life

It is impossible to quantify the number of books that have been written about the Second World War.   Read More

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Max Hastings takes on a massive subject in his latest book, the role played by intelligence and secret operations in the second world war. Read More

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The history of the secret intelligence conflict during the Second World War is so well trodden that the pickings for any new writer traversing this ground ought to be thin. Read More

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