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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But he was interested to discover , what he had not known before , that there was
someone in Geneva part of whose duties at all events was to keep an eye on him
. There was evidently someone who had orders to see that he did not neglect ...
Luxury is dangerous to people who have never known it and to whom its
temptations are held out too suddenly . R . , that shrewd , cynical man , was
captivated by the vulgar glamour and the shoddy brilliance of the scene before
him . Just as ...
When it became known that Byring was the amant de caur ( a prettier phrase than
our English fancy man ) of this famous harlot he became an object of admiration
to many women and of envy to many men ; but when a rumour spread abroad ...