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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Ashenden put the tray on the table at which he was sitting . Caypor gave a laugh
of faint embarrassment . ' I don ' t want to force myself upon you . I don ' t know
why the maid put my coffee on your table . ' * Please sit down , ' said Ashenden .
This roused Mr Harrington to the utmost pitch of indignation , for shaking his fist in
the stationmaster ' s face , his own pale with fury , he cried out : ' Tell him I don ' t
understand a word he says and I don ' t want to understand . If the Russians ...
got quite a decent library here , we get all the new books , but I don ' t really have
much time for reading . I talk to people . You meet all sorts here , you know . They
come and they go . Sometimes they go because they think they ' re cured , but ...