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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Of course there was the Villa , the great leafy garden facing the bay in which
stood the aquarium ; that was deserted at night and very dark ; things happened
there that did not bear the light of day and prudent persons after dusk avoided its
It was one of his notions that only such persons were as had no resources in
themselves and it was but the stupid that depended on the outside world for their
amusement . Ashenden had no illusions about himself and such success in
Presently one or two persons came in , single men with some occupation in
Lucerne and obviously Swiss , and sat down each at his own little table and
untied the napkins that at the end of luncheon they had neatly tied up . They