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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The hotel in point of fact at that season was nearly empty . There were few
foreigners in Naples and trade was bad . ' It ' s all right , ' said Ashenden . The
Hairless Mexican walked boldly out . Ashenden closed the door behind him . He
Caypor scraped acquaintance in Zürich with a young Spaniard , Gomez by name
, who had lately entered the British secret service , by his nationality inspired him
with confidence , and managed to worm out of him the fact that he was ...
It is not everyone who can tell a lie and Ashenden had the feeling , he hardly
knew why , that Mrs Caypor was telling one then . Her manner perhaps was not
quite as indifferent as you would have expected when she was mentioning a fact