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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Then it happened that owing to some hitch the man whom Brown was going to
replace was kept at Lisbon three months longer and so for that period my friend
found himself at a loose end . And just when he was making up his mind what to
There was only three months of it . Oh , how short the time seemed and how
quickly the weeks sped by ! Sometimes he had wild dreams of abandoning
everything and throwing in his lot with the acrobats . They had come to have quite
a liking ...
... that it was very injudicious ; but when they learnt , as sooner or later everything
that happened in the sanatorium was learnt , that Dr Lennox had told Templeton
that if he married he would be dead in six months , they were awed to silence .