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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He was doing his best to read a German book and it was only by an exercise of
self - control that he allowed himself only for one instant to raise his eyes as they
came in . His glance showed him a man of about forty - five with short dark hair ...
To Ashenden ' s astonishment he showed a peculiar knowledge of the mountain
flowers . Once he went out of the way to pick one he saw a little distance from the
path and brought it back to his wife . He looked at it tenderly . ' Isn ' t it lovely ?
Dr Lennox showed them the results of his examinations and explained to them in
plain language what their condition was . ' All that ' s very fine and large , ' said
Templeton then , ' but what we want to know is whether we can get married .