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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... his travelling companion did not turn up , and Ashenden made up his mind to
take his things out of the carriage as the porter cried en voiture ; but , by George !
he would give the brute hell when he found him . There were three minutes more
It arrived at Thonon every morning twenty minutes after the steamer going in the
opposite direction had left . Ashenden had an inspiration . " Where is the man
who brought it ? ' ' He ' s in the ticket - office . ' ' Give him the letter and tell him to ...
How very fortunate that I was in Basle ! I have long wanted to make your
acquaintance . I have only just this minute returned from Germany . ' He pointed
to the sheets of paper by the typewriter . ' I think you will be pleased with the news
I bring .