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Secret War: The Story of SOE

Secret War: The Story of SOE

Nigel West


The sub-title is more accurate than the title. This isn't an official history – but it reads like one, being much ore concerned with who ran which sections, the committees and organograms of SOE than with the actual secret war it prosecuted so well.

Some of the in-fighting described is inevitable, such as the tensions between SOE and MI6. An intelligence service needs quiet; a sabotage service is devoted to exactly the opposite, and so tends to disrupt intelligence-gathering by attracting the attentions of counter-intelligence services. This explains, but doesn't excuse, the hostility and machinations of MI6, which created a bureaucratic war weakening the abilities of both services to fight the actual war. It's an interesting case study in how hard it is to create organisations, even when involved in an existential fight.

2/5. Finished 14 November 2022.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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