THE BOOK REVIEW (BR 2) – Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Maker’s War 1941-45

Calling all spies!!!

Backstabbing, interdepartmental rivalry, leaks, lies, deception and dishonourable behaviour.

No, we’re not talking about the UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet or the current Brexit shambles. We’re talking, instead, about the highly secretive Special Operations Executive (SOE) also known as ‘The Baker Street Irregulars’ or ‘Churchill’s Secret Army.’ For American readers, the SOE formed the blueprint for the OSS which, later, became the CIA.

The author of the book, Leo Marks was certainly an irregular and he was the man who took care of the code making within the SOE. Leo’s book doesn’t only talk about secret codes, it details how the SOE grew and changed during World War 2. The SOE was the department that parachuted many extraordinarily brave people (agents) into occupied Europe. In many cases, the agents were caught and tortured and executed by the Nazis.

Among many other things, Leo’s book also discusses the rows and rivalries which took place between the UK’s various military and government departments during World War 2. Some things never change!

If you are interested in espionage, counter-espionage, secret codes, and how World War 2 was fought on many different and surprising fronts, then this is the book for you.

I give Between Silk and Cyanide a well-deserved Richard score a 10/10

PS: there is a curious cross-link between Leo’s book and 84 Charring Cross Road.

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