Empire of Secrets by Calder Walton

76%

5 Critic Reviews

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.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

The winner of the 2013 Longman-History Today Book Prize is the gripping and largely untold story of the role of the intelligence services in Britain's retreat from empire. Against the background of the Cold War, and the looming spectre of Soviet-sponsored subversion in Britain's dwindling colonial possessions, the imperial intelligence service MI5 played a crucial but top secret role in passing power to newly independent national states across the globe. Mining recently declassified intelligence records, Calder Walton reveals this 'missing link' in Britain's post-war history. He sheds new light on everything from violent counter-insurgencies fought by British forces in the jungles of Malaya and Kenya, to urban warfare campaigns conducted in Palestine and the Arabian Peninsula. Drawing on a wealth of previously classified documents, as well as hitherto overlooked personal papers, this is also the first book to draw on records from the Foreign Office's secret archive at Hanslope Park, which contains some of the darkest and most shameful secrets from the last days of Britain's empire. Packed with incidents straight out of a John le Carre novel, Empire of Secrets is an exhilarating read by an exciting new voice in intelligence history.
 

About Calder Walton

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Calder Walton is a leading expert among a new generation of intelligence historians. He earned a Ph.D in History from Cambridge, has published widely on intelligence history, and has reviewed books for the Times Literary Supplement. He was one of the principal researchers on Christopher Andrew's unprecedented authorized history of MI5. This is his first book.
 
Published March 1, 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers. 448 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Empire of Secrets
All: 5 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Oct 10 2013

A fresh exploration of MI5’s role in the prickly process of extricating Britain from its colonial grip...A good first step at clarifying decades of official lies and failures.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Sep 23 2013

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.

Read Full Review of Empire of Secrets | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Ed Vulliamy on Jan 31 2013

We cling to spy fantasies...But this book unveils the reality of an inbred caste recruited on the quadrangle staircases of Oxbridge, and its "non-commissioned" but servile substrata of button-polishing bully-boys.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Karl Wolff on Nov 14 2013

While Empire of Secrets is written in a highly academic tone, for those interested in the Cold War, intelligence history, and British decolonization, the book proves indispensible.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Daniel Johnson on Jan 03 2014

"Empire of Secrets" is the first book on the twilight of empire to be based on declassified intelligence records and includes detailed case studies of Palestine, Malaya and Africa, with a more general overview of imperial security during the first two decades of the Cold War.

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Reader Rating for Empire of Secrets
80%

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