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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Ashenden knew that R . had not sent for him to talk about the weather and the
crops , and wondered when he was coming to the point . He did not wonder long
. " You ' ve been doing pretty well in Geneva , ' he said . ' I ' m glad you think ...
Just as the advantage of culture is that it enables you to talk nonsense with
distinction , so the habit of luxury allows you to regard its frills and furbelows with
a proper contumely . · But when they had eaten their luncheon and were drinking
I must ask her again . It ought not to be very hard to find a man who is prepared to
come and talk German to me for an hour a day . ... After all you want someone
with a good NorthGerman accent and she only talks Swiss . I ' ll ask my wife if she