Cover Image: House of Spies

House of Spies

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Member Reviews

Princess Fuzzypants here:  
Who doesn't love a good spy story?  Who doesn't love a good true spy story even more?  Not anyone I know.  And this book is chocked full of good stories dating back to the earliest days of the Intelligence Game prior to WWI.
The British were well ahead of their enemies and their friends back then.  What is more important, no one outside of a small circle knew it which meant the information was even more powerful.  It served them well during the conflict.  But afterwards, the importance of keeping up was not realized.
Luckily, the lessons from WWI were not forgotten and it stood them in good stead when the folks at Bletchley began their work.  They were going to need it because they were up against an enemy who realized the value of information.  There is no doubt that breaking Enigma and sending in agents and provocateurs to the mainland before the invasion contributed to the ultimate victory.  However, by the end of WWII, there were other leaders in the spy game- the Soviets and the Americans.  For the next 40 plus years there would be a game of jockeying, a deadly game indeed and much of it revolved around London.
From the beginning, the St. Ermin's Hotel seemed to be the hub of activity and many of the stories return to that location.  While the book was not as centered on stories that took place in the hotel, as I suspected it would be, it is still very informative and highly entertaining.  It is well written by someone who could offer first hand observations.  That always makes it more engrossing.  If you enjoy history filled with anecdotes, you will find this book to your liking.  I know I did.
I give this five purrs and two paws up.
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I liked reading this book. It was informative and kept my interest for the most part.
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House of Spies is the type of book that makes you wonder how much our governments never reveal to us. Peter Matthews brilliant tells the history of spying in the early to mid 20th century.  I found the use of Nazi spies to help battle the Cold War truly amazing. The Soviets recruitment of British subjects was extraordinary but that fact they continued to spy for the Soviets after the war blows my mind. Mr. Matthews tells his story of Spies nicely and I feel I have a better understanding how MI5, MI6, and the CIA came into being.
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Very nicely written history of English espionage, with American  mentions. Most of the book concentrates on the period before 
World War II. That is unfortunately about as relevant now as is the Boer War. Would have been twice as interested in more recent goings-on. As soon as the narrative encounters the characters such as Philby the intrigue is far more tactile. Nevertheless it's great to read such well written prose with a full panorama of the 20th century. Recommended for history/spy buffs.
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