Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Six of the best non-fiction books about real spies

Ava Glass (a pseudonym for an internationally bestselling author who has sold over two and a half million copies of her books worldwide) is a former civil servant and journalist who once worked closely with spies. She lives in the same town in the south of England as Christopher Steele. But this is, of course, a coincidence.

Her new spy novel is Alias Emma.

At CrimeReads Glass tagged six of her "favorite, stranger than fiction, utterly gripping, non-fiction books about real spies," including:
M, by Henry Hemming

Author Henry Hemming believes Maxwell Knight was Britain’s greatest spymaster, and he certainly makes a good case for it in M. Knight had failed at many careers before joining the British secret service in the 1920s, but in espionage, he found his true talent. His operations investigating and infiltrating communist cells in the UK were extremely successful, in part, Hemming believes, because Knight recruited, used, and trusted female spies more than anyone before him ever had. He placed these female spies in communist circles, often as clerical staff. He theorized that nobody would suspect them because they didn’t see women as capable of being a threat. And he was right. Over and over, subversive groups ignored and underestimated the women among them while they quietly gathered the information needed to bring the cells down. It was Knight’s recruit Olga Grey (known for years only as ‘Miss X’), who exposed the infamous Woolwich Arsenal Spy Ring. This was a group of British communist sympathizers who attempted to share critical information about new state-of-the-art weapons with the Soviet Union in the years leading up to World War II. But they were exposed by Grey, before they could do too much harm. Knight and his female spies are fascinating characters, and the story rips along at a brisk pace.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue