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Keith Jeffery's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Keith Jeffery recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Keith Jeffery's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Recommended by Keith Jeffery, and 1 others.

Keith JefferyI still go back to this book, which was published in 1985. It is a real pioneering wonderful book underpinned by proper academic scholarship. But it is also a great read. It is the sort of book I would have loved to have written myself and I perhaps tried to do it a bit with my recent book. (Source)

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In this classic, John le Carre's third novel and the first to earn him international acclaim, he created a world unlike any previously experienced in suspense fiction. With unsurpassed knowledge culled from his years in British Intelligence, le Carre brings to light the shadowy dealings of international espionage in the tale of a British agent who longs to end his career but undertakes one final, bone-chilling assignment. When the last agent under his command is killed and Alec Leamas is called back to London, he hopes to come in from the cold for good. His spymaster, Control, however, has... more
Recommended by Ben Macintyre, Keith Jeffery, and 2 others.

Ben MacintyreI think it sets the standard for all spy literature. It’s very hard to improve on The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It’s the classic le Carré recipe of compromised individuals trying to find their way through a labyrinth of deception and self-deception (Source)

Keith JefferyThis is at the far end of the spectrum from James Bond, but it also says a lot about the bureaucracy of the Service. (Source)

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Greek Memories

Compton Mackenzie was a celebrated writer at the start of the Great War. He was soon recruited by British Secret Services, becoming "our man in Greece." Later, he broke the rules by writing memoirs that included secret documents naming serving officers and exposing agents' cover. Mackenzie was prosecuted and Greek Memories was banned. Now, for the first time, here is Mackenzie's memoir as it should have been seen—a remarkable document of wartime espionage.

Compton Mackenzie (1883–1972) was the author of over ninety books including Whisky Galore. During the...
Recommended by Keith Jeffery, and 1 others.

Keith JefferyCompton Mackenzie was a humorous novelist and enormously prolific Scottish writer as well as being a public man of affairs. He had already achieved a reputation as a novelist just before the First World War. But during the war he joins the Navy and goes to serve in Naval Intelligence in Greece after being invalided out of front line work. He was taken on by the forerunner of MI6 – then known as... (Source)

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The Riddle of the Sands

Languishing one summer at the Foreign Office in London, Carruthers is rescued by an unexpected invitation to join Arthur Davies and the Dulcibella in the Baltic. A grouse-shooting party or a weekend at Cowes would have been more Carruther’s style. More disconcerting still, soon after his arrival it emerges that Davies needs his assistance, not on a yachting holiday, but in a sport of amateur spying...

Sounding a warning of the dangers of a German sea-borne invasion, The Riddle of the Sands created a sensation when it appeared in 1903. Recognizably the great forerunner...

Ben MacintyreIt’s a ripping yarn, it’s just so exciting. I first read it when I was about ten, and I’ve re-read it periodically since and it combines two of the things that I love most. (Source)

Keith JefferyA wonderful book both for the espionage aficionado and also for the yachtsman. (Source)

Stephen EvansIt’s the Great Game again, but this time it is played out in a small sailing boat on the Frisian Coast in Germany around 1900. (Source)

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James Bond is marked for death by the Soviet counterintelligence agency SMERSH in Ian Fleming’s masterful spy thriller, and the novel that President John F. Kennedy named one of his favorite books of all time.

SMERSH stands for “Death to Spies” and there’s no secret agent they’d like to disgrace and destroy more than 007, James Bond. But ensnaring the British Secret Service’s most lethal operative will require a lure so tempting even he can’t resist. Enter Tatiana Romanova, a ravishing Russian spy whose “defection” springs a trap designed with clockwork precision. Her mission:...

Keith JefferyAlthough Bond gets wounded or into trouble, he always manages to come out on top in the end. (Source)

James TwiningYou’d have to struggle to look at literary fiction over the past 50 years and come up with a character who has really inhabited the popular consciousness. (Source)

Pete WinnerWell, this is all about the Cold War. It is a similar story to what Gaz Hunter was into – going across the East German border, lurking around, possibly getting captured and tortured by the Russians. (Source)

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