Opening the books

Interesting note in the Bookseller this week to the effect that MI5 are allowing a historian access to write about an organisation so secretive it makes the Masons looks affably extrovert.

“The Security Service (MI5), the agency that deals with national security, is to open its books to historian Christopher Andrew for an official history to be published by Allen Lane in 2009.

Andrew “will be at liberty to present his judgements” about what he finds in the MI5 files. Stuart Proffitt, publishing director at Penguin Press (of which Allen Lane is the hardcover imprint), says: “No security or intelligence service has ever opened its archives to a historian as the Security Service is doing now.” The book will be “the most important and influential book about British history in the 20th century for many years”.

Andrew is professor of modern and contemporary history at Cambridge University. He is the author of several books on intelligence matters, and broadcasts frequently. His agent is Bill Hamilton at A M Heath.”

Source: the Bookseller

Dare I suggest that they invert Donna Tartt’s global best-seller title and call it ‘History Secret’?? You’ll note that the proposed publication date means it is likely certain Prime Ministers will have left office by then, just in case there are any more damaging stories about the misleading of Parliament and the British people on the road to war (alas, not the Road Less Travelled I am ashamed to say). Just coincidence of course. On a related topic one of hte internet job seraches I have going sent me details of MI5 recruiting recently. How times have changed – once upon a time our intelligence services were officially non-existent, although everyone knew about them of course. Then they placed bizarre ads in the pesonal columns of the likes of the Times and you had to solve it to track them down and apply. Or else you were recruited directly from Oxford or Cambridge because obviously that’s where good spies come form, like Burgess or MacLean… Makes you wonder why they never thought about that, doesn’t it? If the Old School network of Oxbridge graduates often turned out to be homosexual communist traitors why didn’t Mi5 and MI6 think to recruit from perhaps Glasgow University instead?

Not as vital to national security perhaps, but last week’s Bookseller also featured our own Alex, being given a jolly from publishers in his new role at Head Office. Nice picture of my former colleague Bob McDevitt of Headline who drove them all around Islay, home of the finest single malts in the known universe and various distilleries. And people whigne about the amount of free books I blag…