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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In a minute the stationmaster came accompanied by a bearded Russian ,
suffering evidently from profound emotion , and followed by a lady holding two
children by the hand . The Russian , tears running down his face , was talking
He felt lost in the immensity of Russia and very solitary . He had protested when
... who was more suited . There was a knock at the door and Ashenden , pleased
to make use of the few words of the language he knew , called out in Russian .
In her Russian way she understood that Mr Harrington could not leave Petrograd
without his washing . His insistence had given it the value of a symbol . ' l ' ll go
downstairs and see if I can find anybody about who knows where the laundry is ...