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 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.

Format: ebook
Release Date: 10 Sep 2015
Pages: None
ISBN: 978-0-00-813302-3
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