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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There was a Bulgarian , an agent of Ashenden , whom for greater safety he had
never even spoken to in Geneva ; he was dining that night with two fellow -
countrymen and in a day or so , if he was not killed in the interval , might have a
Ah , my dear fellow , there you are , I wondered what had become of you . ' ' Good
God , man , hurry up or we shall miss the train . ' ' I never miss a traiņ . Have you
got good seats ? The chef de gare has gone for the night ; this is his assistant .
He wondered whether R . , that shrewd fellow who chose his instruments with
such a sure instinct , had not this time made a mistake , and he was uneasy . Did
the Hairless Mexican really believe that he was irresistible or was he merely a ...