SOE: An Outline History of the Special Operations Executive 1940-1946
We now know much more about The Special Operations Executive than its official historian, MRD Foot, could reveal in this book when first published in 1984. But it remains an indispensable introduction to the SOE, set up by Churchill in 1940 to wage subversive war behind enemy lines in occupied Europe, North Africa and the Far East. It covers the often eccentric recruiting methods, the hard training, complex communications and accounts of operations, some spectacularly successful (the attack on a heavy water plant in Nazi-occupied Norway), others tragic failures (Nazi infiltration of a Dutch resistance network that caused the deaths of many agents). We also learn of the skill and courage of individual agents, and there’s a valuable chapter on what it was like to be an SOE agent on active service – the exhilaration of danger interspersed with long periods of lying low in boredom, isolation and fear.