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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Give me half an hour and the letter shall be ready . ' ' I will wait here , ' said
Ashenden . " Why ? ' ' Because I prefer to . ' Her eyes flashed angrily , but
controlling herself she said nothing . On the chest of drawers were writing
materials . She sat ...
He took out of his pocket the letter she had given the boatman and handed it to
her . " What is the meaning of this ? ' he asked . She gave a gasp at the sight of it
and her sallow face went green . “ You gave me your word that you would neither
Give him the letter and tell him to return to the person who gave it to him . He is to
say that he took it to the lady and she sent it back . If the person asks him to take
another letter he is to say that it is not much good as she is packing her trunk ...