To mark the centenary of its foundation, MI5 opened its archives for the very first time to an independent historian, resulting in an unprecedented publishing event. In The Defence of the Realm, Christopher Andrew reveals the precise role of the Security Service in twentieth-century British history, from its founding by Captain Kell of the British Army in October 1909, through two world wars, and up to and including its present roles in counter-espionage and counter-terrorism.
Readers will learn how MI5 has been managed, what its relationship has been with the government, where it has triumphed and where it has failed. Despite the sensitive nature of the materials, no restrictions were placed on the judgments made by the author.
The Defence of the Realm also uncovers the identities of previously unknown enemies of Britain and the West whose activities the Service has brought to light; adds significantly to our knowledge of many celebrated events and notorious individuals; and definitively lays to rest a number of persistent myths. Above all, it shows the place of this hitherto extremely secretive organization within the UK. Few books could offer such an immediate and extraordinary expansion in our understanding of British history over the past century.