British Intelligence in the World Wars: The History and Legacy of Britain's Covert Activities during Both Conflicts, Charles River Editors
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British Intelligence in the World Wars: The History and Legacy of Britain's Covert Activities during Both Conflicts

Author: Charles River Editors

Narrator: Bill Caufield

Unabridged: 3 hr 11 min

Format: Digital Audiobook

Publisher: Findaway Voices

Published: 11/08/2023

Genre: History - Military - World War Ii


Many members of British society viewed war as a sport, a lethal one admittedly, but one played by gentlemen in the spirit of amateurism and fair play as it had been throughout the British Empire in the preceding decades. The bloody stalemate on the Western Front caught them unprepared for the dark arts of covert warfare which would be needed to avert defeat, gain the initiative, win the war and, ultimately, shape the peace. Those operations would witness the evolution of an ad hoc coalition of stakeholders from the military, the political elite, academics, technical experts, various kinds of industry, the media, and even the artistic community, all of which came together to wage a variety of forms of covert warfare. Many of the programs were technically successful, and in some cases, they undoubtedly saved lives and shortened the war.

Given the nature of war, many operations and many technologies have to be covert in order to be successful, and that imposes limits on democratic oversight, but in the case of the First World War, the boundaries of what was acceptable under the bounds of morality and the laws of war were repeatedly challenged.

World War II was also a conflict in which modern covert operations first hit their stride. From the jungles of Burma to the streets of Paris, spies, saboteurs, and commandos carried out missions built on secrecy and cunning. Precise, self-contained operations could be as important to the outcome of the war as acts of massive destruction, whether it involved targeted assassinations, sabotaging key logistics, or counterintelligence to break up the enemy’s own rings. At the time, most of these operations were hidden from the public since that was the only way they could be successfully carried out, but in the years since, stories about various missions have emerged. They paint a picture of incredible courage and ingenuity, whether in war zones, enemy territory, or far from the front lines.


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