Sunday, December 30, 2012

Five top books on secret agents

William Stevenson was trained in aerial espionage as a British naval fighter pilot during World War II. A distinguished journalist and war correspondent, he is the author of sixteen books, including A Man Called Intrepid, Intrepid’s Last Case, Ninety Minutes at Entebbe, and, most recently, Past to Present: A Reporter's Story of War, Spies, People, and Politics.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about secret agents, including:
Between Silk and Cyanide
by Leo Marks (1998)

World War II spymasters have traditionally been tight-lipped, rarely exposing personal reflections about their work or who they worked with. Not the author of this memoir. Marks, who revolutionized Allied codemaking, provides an insider's view of the planning and organization of some of the war's most secret operations. As head of communications for Britain's Special Operations Executive, he insisted on knowing his agents personally: It allowed him to devise better codes for them and figure out when the codes fell into enemy hands. Perhaps the most poignant moment in the book is when he describes meeting his friend Tommy, the legendary spy "White Rabbit," after the war: "They were hanging from his eyes," he writes, referring to fellow agents who had been hung from hooks and slowly strangled. He goes on, "I waited until [Tommy was gone] and was then violently sick on behalf of mankind."
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue