This fascinating book contains probably the most expert stories of espionage ever written. For a period of time after it was first published, the book became official required reading for persons entering the British Secret Service.
During World War I, Maugham enlisted with an ambulance unit, but was soon shifted to the Intelligence Department. Although these stories were based on the author's own experiences as a British agent during the war, he emphasized that they were written purely as entertainment, at which, indeed, Ashenden succeeds. Maugham's clarity of style, the perfection of his form, the subtlety of his thought, veiled thinly behind a worldly cynicism, has made him an international figure.
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Anastasia Alexandrovna gave Mr Harrington an odd look and to his surprise
Ashenden saw him turn scarlet . " What ' s the matter now ? ' " You see , we had
nothing to bind her up with . Mr Harrington ' s handkerchief was soaked . There
W. Somerset Maugham. striped trousers , his shoes neatly polished and a derby
on his bald head . He took it off when he saw Anastasia Alexandrovna . ' Oh ,
fancy finding you here so early . I looked in on my way out , I wanted to tell you
Anastasia Alexandrovna came back and told them that she had found the
address . ' It ' s about forty minutes ' walk from here and if you ' ll come now I ' ll go
with you , ' she said . ' I ' m ready . ' “ You ' d better look out , ' said Ashenden .