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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The spy leaned forward and , not raising his voice , but speaking so that only
Ashenden could hear , burst out angrily : ' Do you think I ' m going on risking my
life for that beggarly sum you give me ? Not ten days ago a man was caught at
Ashenden spoke to her as amiably as he could , a little as though he were taking
to a sick person , and there was no harshness in his voice . ' Oh , yes , I made a
fool of myself . I wrote the letter the Colonel said I was to write . Why isn ' t that ...
He walked ahead of his wife , and of her Ashenden only caught the impression of
a German woman selfeffaced and dusty . Grantley Caypor sat down and began in
a loud voice explaining to the waitress that they had taken an immense walk .