Published Jun 2018
The history of espionage stretches back over millennia, yet it has largely been forgotten.
The Secret World sets out to recover that lost history, to demonstrate the role of intelligence in global events, and to challenge histories which have so overlooked the intelligence dimension. It provides a gripping account of spies, secrets and espionage through the centuries, tracing the shift in the ancient world from divination to the gathering of real intelligence in the conduct of military operations, and charting its development in statecraft through, amongst others, Renaissance Venice, Elizabethan England, Ancien Régime France, Revolutionary America and Tsarist Russia – right up to the sophisticated modern activities of which Christopher Andrew is the world’s leading historian.
‘Intelligence history is not linear’, Andrew argues, and most of its practitioners – like most of the public – have been ignorant of its history: the Renaissance intelligence services which established European pre-eminence were unacquainted with the achievements of their Chinese, Indian and Muslim forebears; Britain’s and America’s leaders at the outbreak of the First World War were outclassed in their grasp of intelligence by some of their eighteenth-century predecessors; the codebreakers at Bletchley Park who cracked Hitler’s ciphers were unaware of those who had decrypted French communications in the time of Napoleon, and those of the Spanish before the Armada.
The most comprehensive history of intelligence and security operations yet written, The Secret World is also a hymn to the importance of learning from past experience.