Odd pieces of the US/British espionage puzzle. Hyde, a biographer of William ""Intrepid"" Stephenson (Room 3603), here...

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SECRET INTELLIGENCE AGENT

Odd pieces of the US/British espionage puzzle. Hyde, a biographer of William ""Intrepid"" Stephenson (Room 3603), here chronicles his own espionage activities, 1939-43--as a specialist in opening (and altering) neutral-German mails--and natters on about assorted matters relevant and irrelevant. Stephenson, in a foreword, once again denies allegations by Churchill's private secretary John Coville (in Winston Churchill and His Inner Circle), that Stephenson inflated his relationship with Churchill; and he and Hyde both defend a wartime associate, Dick Ellis, against Chapman Pincher's charge (in Their Trade is Treachery) of being a Soviet spy. It's a very in-group-y, in-book-y enterprise also as regards relations between Stephenson's British Security Coordination outfit, operating semi-clandestinely in the US, and American authorities--preeminently the State Department and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. But only Stephenson's appendix deals with his role, via William Donovan, in the formation of the OSS (a subject covered in authoritative detail by Bradley Smith, below). What's left of consequence: Hyde in Liverpool, on Gibraltar, and in Bermuda opening ""suspicious"" letters under the cloak of British Censorship; intercepting ""contraband"" (notably a Vollard shipment of Impressionists) and securing the proceeds for the British; tipping-off US authorities to a German spy ring; thwarting a prospective pro-German Bolivian coup (the best story, though like the others not a new one); exposing Vichy skulduggery in the American press. Among the scraps of color are encounters with the Duke of Windsor, the Kordas (Sir A. was married to Merle O.), and anti-Hitlerite, pro-Nazi German Otto Strasser. He follows up on everyone--including Yugoslav double-agent Popov (whose Pearl-Harbor warning J. Edgar Hoover ignored because he mistrusted ""Tricycle's"" lifestyle) and his own wife and fellow-agent Dorothy (who, a footnote regretfully relates, fell in love with and married the original of James Bond). A motley, in sum, for close followers of these particular intrigues.

Pub Date: May 3, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983