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

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