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

By Max Hastings

‘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

‘Authoritative, exciting and notably well written’ Daily Telegraph

‘A serious work of rigourous and comprehensive history … royally entertaining and readable’ Mail on Sunday

In The Secret War, Max Hastings presents a worldwide cast of characters and extraordinary sagas of intelligence and Resistance to create a new perspective on the greatest conflict in history. The book links tales of high courage ashore, at sea and in the air to the work of the brilliant ‘boffins’ battling the enemy’s technology. Here are not only the unheralded codebreaking geniuses of Bletchley Park, but also their German counterparts who achieved their own triumphs and the fabulous espionage networks created, and so often spurned, by the Soviet Union. With its stories of high policy and human drama, the book has been acclaimed as the best history of the secret war ever written.

Format: Paperback
Release Date: 05 May 2016
Pages: 640
ISBN: 978-0-00-750390-2
Max Hastings is the author of twenty-six books, most about conflict, and between 1986 and 2002 served as editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and his books, of which the most recent are All Hell Let Loose, Catastrophe and The Secret War, best-sellers translated around the world. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, London and was knighted in 2002. He has two grown-up children, Charlotte and Harry, and lives with his wife Penny in West Berkshire, where they garden enthusiastically.

”'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

”'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

”'Authoritative, exciting and notably well written” - Daily Telegraph

”'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” - Evening Standard

”'Lively and entertaining … a rich gallery of rogues, eccentrics and brainstorming professors which … Hastings can manipulate with wonderful deftness” - Observer

”'A compendious, crisply argued and witty assessment” - Financial Times

”'[Hastings] writes with infectious relish … a magnificent parade of crooks, alcoholics and fantasists … [he] has drawn fascinating fresh material … A book that pulses along, yet is filled with acute insight into human ingenuity, frailty, and the ironies of evil” - Spectator

”'Magisterial … an author at the top of his game” - Country Life

”'Hastings deploys a formidable arsenal to tell his human stories, plus a refreshing degree of scepticism” - Daily Telegraph