Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels

Stella Rimington joined Britain’s Security Service (MI5) in 1969. During her nearly thirty-year career she worked in all the main fields of the Service’s responsibilities—counter subversion, counter espionage and counter terrorism—and successively became Director of all three branches. Appointed Director General of MI5 in 1992, she was the first woman to hold the post and the first Director General whose name was publicly announced on appointment. Following her retirement from MI5 in 1996, she published her autobiography, Open Secret, in the United Kingdom. She is also the author of the novels: At Risk, Secret Asset, Illegal Action and the newly released Dead Line.

She named her 6 favorite secret agent novels for The Week magazine. One title on the list:
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

Insiders can portray spying as it is, exaggerate it, or laugh at it. Graham Greene chose to laugh cynically. Mr. Wormold, a vacuum-cleaner salesman in Havana, is recruited as an agent by British intelligence. He begins making up his intelligence. But when it all becomes true, he becomes a star. Then it all starts to unravel.
Read about another book on the list.

Our Man in Havana also made Alan Furst's five best list of spy books.

Also see Rimington's five best list of books about spies in Britain and a 2009 list of her six best books.

Read Rimington's answer to the question: Which fictional character most resembles you?

--Marshal Zeringue