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The life of Britain's most highly decorated Cold War Spymaster, Sir Maurice Oldfield

'I cannot think of a better biography of a spy chief'
Richard Davenport-Hines, The Spectator

Sir Maurice Oldfield was one of the most important British spies of the Cold War era. A farmer’s son from a provincial grammar school who found himself accidentally plunged into the world of espionage, Sir Maurice was the first Chief of MI6 who didn’t come to the role via the traditional public school and Oxbridge route.

Oldfield was the voice of British Intelligence in Washington at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of JFK, and was largely responsible for keeping the UK out of the Vietnam War. Working his way to the top of the secret service, he took on the job of rebuilding confidence in the British Secret Service in the wake of the Philby, Burgess and Maclean spy scandals.

This is the fascinating life story, told in detail for the first time, of a complex, likable character as well as a formidable intelligence chief.

Reviews

An exemplary biography... it is full of perceptive intimacies and plenty of tradecraft, subterfuge, deception and revelation. I cannot think of a better biography of a spy chief.

Richard Davenport-Hines, The Spectator

a frank and clear-eyed, if affectionate, biography of a great public servant, cruelly traduced

Matthew Parris, Spectator, Books of the Year 2016

An intriguing portrait of a brilliant man

Mail on Sunday

Gripping and candid.

The Times

A welcome biography of a man able to combine warm family and personal relationships with hard-headed intellectual analysis, taking the cold decisions needed to succeed in the most unaccountable and secret of government agencies.

Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian

[Maurice Oldfield] was the first professional intelligence officer to make it all the way to the top and become Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and he was a seminal figure in the creation of the modern MI6. An invisible legend, but a legend nevertheless.

Frederick Forsyth

A lively, readable and delightful portrait of one of the most charming men to emerge from the shadows.

Sunday Telegraph

This is the finest biography of a British Spymaster ever written. From Oldfield’s Derbyshire roots to the peaks and valleys of his MI6 career, the insights are revealing, the judgements are fair and the well-wrought narrative makes a compelling read. This is a marvellous addition to the historical literature of the secret world.

Jonathan Aitken

Denied access to the official files but with the co-operation of former intelligence officers, Oldfield's nephew has produced an immensely enjoyable biography of the most important post-war spy chief of Britain's still very, very secret Secret Intelligence Service, revealing the previously unknown private person and the man who kept the British government informed during the Cold War.

Stephen Dorril, author of MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations

A revealing study of this most unlikely of spy chiefs, the clever farmer’s son from Derbyshire who reached the top of the most class-bound of professions. Pearce paints a rounded portrait of an enigmatic personality, but one whose skilful reading of human nature and empathy with colleagues made him a popular ‘Chief’ of the Secret Intelligence Service in the dangerous days of the Cold War.

Roger Hermiston, author of The Greatest Traitor

Fuller and more rounded than previous accounts... Pearce amplifies and clarifies our image of a man who contributed significantly to the national zeal and, arguably, world peace.

Alan Judd, Literary Review

A fascinating insight into the complex world of a master spy.

Charles Cumming, author of A Divided Spy

Riveting.

Daily Express

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780552171625

    May 18, 2017

    Corgi

    496 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781473525351

    May 5, 2016

    Transworld Digital

    496 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

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