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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I want you to give his reports your very best attention . Of course Gustav is a
clever little chap , but there ' s no reason why we shouldn ' t get just as good
reports from the other agents . It ' s merely a question of explaining exactly what
we want .
Oh , no , ' Gustav cried vehemently . ' How can you think it ? My sympathies are
absolutely pro - Ally . My heart is entirely with you . ' ' Well , why not ? ' asked
Ashenden . ' The Germans have all the money in the world and there is no
There ' s no reason that my good wife shouldn ' t earn a little pin - money . Would
you think ten francs an hour too much ? ' ' No , ' said Ashenden , ' I should think
myself lucky to get a first - rate teacher for that . ' ' What do you say , my dear ?