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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He sat by the bedside and again his eyes met Miss King ' s . It was embarrassing
to encounter that unshrinking stare . ' Don ' t worry yourself , Miss King . You ' ve
had a slight stroke . I ' m sure your speech will come back to you in a minute .
The black eyes , and as he looked at them they seemed to glow mysteriously as
though there were fire behind them , the eyes continued to hold him with that
insistent stare . Then Ashenden asked himself if she had sent for him because
Anastasia Alexandrovna had fine eyes and a good , though for these days too
voluptous , figure , high cheek - bones and a snub nose ( this was very Tartar ) , a
wide mouth full of large square teeth , and a pale skin . She dressed somewhat ...