Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War, and the Twilight of Empire

Calder Walton. Overlook, $35 (448p) ISBN 978-1-4683-0715-3
Walton seeks to uncover the role British intelligence services played as Britain’s empire began a steep and sudden decline. In the aftermath of WWII it became clear that the glory days of British intelligence were over and that it would be playing sidekick to the Americans, beginning with the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran. Walton’s account of the struggles of British intelligence to manage this uneven and often volatile decline showcases the responses of British agents and organizations who struggled to keep up with events that were far out of their control. The work is authoritative, but rarely accessible to the average reader. Walton is at his best when he focuses on the startling details of his research into these declassified archives, investigating how Anthony Eden cherry-picked intelligence in the lead-up to the Suez Crisis, and how Jomo Kenyatta went from being viewed as a communist villain by MI5 to being an ally who used the security and intelligence networks left behind by the British to monitor his political opponents in Kenya. Though he struggles throughout to be concise, Walton’s study sheds light on Britain’s actions during the Cold War, and its withdrawal from its colonies. 16page b&w insert. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 11/14/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 411 pages - 978-0-00-745796-0
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4683-1043-6
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-00-746842-3
Paperback - 411 pages - 978-0-00-745795-3
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-1-4683-0946-1
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