It is indeed candid, all too candid in the eyes of Margaret Thatcher who tried to ban this riveting book internationally, not just in the UK.

Peter Wright was the first scientist to work officially for the Security Service, aka MI5, and he achieved major innovations as well as identifying and fixing major failings in an organisation all too often led by mediocre, old school types, ‘yes men’ of a certain class who preferred one another’s company in London’s clubland and covering up one another’s failings to getting down and dirty in pursuing the KGB and GRU and their deep penetration agents as well as fake defectors.

Opinionated, outspoken, properly contemptuous of privilege, mediocrity and bureaucracy, Wright made enemies aplenty, both within his own service and among senior staff of the Secret Intelligence Service, but his effectiveness was never really in doubt, and he never did stop hunting down the country’s secret enemies within at no little personal cost.

Whether Roger Hollis, Director-General of the Security Service, really was a Soviet mole will probably never be known beyond all doubt. Wright brings detailed, complex and persuasive reasoning and evidence to support his conviction that he was.

The jury is still out, not least because the UK authorities, with their characteristic contempt for the public interest, are still withholding the relevant files from scrutiny after half a century and more. That in itself speaks volumes.

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