The Defence of the Realm

The Defence of the Realm
The Defence of the Realm  
The Defence of the Realm.jpg
Author(s) Christopher Andrew
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher Allen Lane
Publication date 5 October 2009
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 1032 pp
ISBN 0713998857

The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5, published in the United States as Defend the Realm, is an authorised history of the British Security Service (MI5), written by historian Christopher Andrew. Andrew was commissioned in December 2002 to write the history for MI5's 100th anniversary in 2009, and was given "virtually unrestricted access" to much of MI5's files, as well as "no restriction" on whatever conclusions he decided to draw from them.[1] The book reported, amongst other things, that MI5 kept a file on Prime Minister Harold Wilson under a pseudonym.[2] The book's title was derived from MI5's Latin motto, Regnum Defende.[2] Historian Keith Jeffery was commissioned to write a similar authorised history on the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) for release in 2010.[3]

Contents

Reception

The book received generally positive reviews from major newspapers. The Daily Telegraph called it "magisterial, authoritative, balanced, readable...full of wry humour and with an eye for the absurd",[4] declaring that "MI5 could not have wanted a better historian than him...This book is unlikely to be surpassed for another 100 years".[5] More tempered praise came from The Sunday Times, where Max Hastings found the account "weighty, measured and compelling", regretting only a bit of occasional over enthusiasm on the part of the author and a lack of reflection on "the relationship between the service, ministers and the public".[6]

Ben Macintyre reviewed Defend the Realm for The New York Times Book Review, calling it "not only a work of meticulous scholarship but also a series of riveting and true spy stories", though recognizing that such an account on a secretive organization will necessarily be incomplete in certain areas.[7] The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, found it "as complete and thorough as such a history may be and as engrossing as any spy novel".[8]

The Defence of the Realm, however, was criticised in Quadrant magazine in an article by Paul Monk[who?] for, Monk alleges, almost non-existent use of meaningful citation, bias in favor of MI5's "official" line, and for glossing over the issue of whether Roger Hollis was a Soviet agent[9]

References

  1. ^ "MI5 - The Authorised Centenary History". 2009-10-05. http://www.mi5.gov.uk/output/mi5-the-authorised-centenary-history.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  2. ^ a b Corera, Gordon (2009-10-05). "Book tells of MI5's secret past". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8289897.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  3. ^ "Book to detail top secrets of MI6". BBC News. 2005-12-07. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/4506052.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  4. ^ Lownie, Andrew (2009-10-18). "The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew: review". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/6325345/The-Defence-of-the-Realm-The-Authorized-History-of-MI5-by-Christopher-Andrew-review.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  5. ^ Heffer, Simon (2009-10-16). "The Defence of the Realm: the Authorised History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/6349017/The-Defence-of-the-Realm-the-Authorised-History-of-MI5-by-Christopher-Andrew.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  6. ^ Hastings, Max (2009-10-11). "The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew". The Sunday Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/book_reviews/article6866457.ece. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  7. ^ Macintyre, Ben (2010-01-29). "Smiley’s People". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/books/review/MacIntyre-t.html. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  8. ^ Rutten, Tim (2009-12-30). "'Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5' by Christopher Andrew". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/30/entertainment/la-et-book30-2009dec30. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  9. ^ Quadrant Online April 2010 Volume LIV Number 4 "Christopher Andrew and the Strange Case of Roger Hollis"[1]

Editions

United Kingdom

  • The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5. Allen Lane. 2009. ISBN 0713998857.  (hardcover)
  • The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5. Penguin. 2010. ISBN 0141023309.  (paperback)

United States

  • Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5. Knopf. 2009. ISBN 0307263630.  (hardcover)
  • Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5. Vintage. 2010. ISBN 0307275817.  (paperback)

References

  1. ^ "MI5 - The Authorised Centenary History". 2009-10-05. http://www.mi5.gov.uk/output/mi5-the-authorised-centenary-history.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  2. ^ a b Corera, Gordon (2009-10-05). "Book tells of MI5's secret past". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8289897.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  3. ^ "Book to detail top secrets of MI6". BBC News. 2005-12-07. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/4506052.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  4. ^ Lownie, Andrew (2009-10-18). "The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew: review". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/6325345/The-Defence-of-the-Realm-The-Authorized-History-of-MI5-by-Christopher-Andrew-review.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  5. ^ Heffer, Simon (2009-10-16). "The Defence of the Realm: the Authorised History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/6349017/The-Defence-of-the-Realm-the-Authorised-History-of-MI5-by-Christopher-Andrew.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  6. ^ Hastings, Max (2009-10-11). "The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew". The Sunday Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/book_reviews/article6866457.ece. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  7. ^ Macintyre, Ben (2010-01-29). "Smiley’s People". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/books/review/MacIntyre-t.html. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  8. ^ Rutten, Tim (2009-12-30). "'Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5' by Christopher Andrew". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/30/entertainment/la-et-book30-2009dec30. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  9. ^ Quadrant Online April 2010 Volume LIV Number 4 "Christopher Andrew and the Strange Case of Roger Hollis"[1]

External links


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