The Silent Game: The Real World of Imaginary Spies
David Stafford

The Silent Game: The Real World of Imaginary Spies

The Silent Game traces the history of spy writers and their fiction from creator William Le Queux, of the Edwardian age, to John le Carré, of the Cold War era. David Stafford reveals the connections between fact and fiction as seen in the lives of writers with experience in intelligence, including John Buchan, Compton Mackenzie, Somerset Maugham, Ian Fleming, and Graham Greene. Le Queux used his spy fiction as xenophobic propaganda before and after World War I, and le Carré’s novels have provided reflections on the Cold War and the decline of Britain’s influence. Anxieties about the decline of the American “empire” have helped stimulate a more vigorous American literature of espionage, providing an index of contemporary American concerns about power relations. As Stafford suggests, the genre of espionage fiction rarely intends to document the real world of intelligence. Rather, it provides a popular vehicle for exploring themes of imperial decline, international crisis, and impending war.

Book Details:

  • Author: David Stafford
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David Stafford

David Stafford is an historian and former diplomat who has written extensively on espionage, intelligence, Churchill, and the Second World War. The former Project Director at the Centre for The Study of the Two World Wars at the University of Edinburgh, he is now an Honorary Fellow of the University and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, where he and his wife now live. He has frequently acted as a TV and radio consultant, has written radio documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC, and his latest book, Ten Days to D-Day, formed ...
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Book Reviews

  • "You won’t read a more intelligent guide to spy novelists, and how they have dealt with Intelligence in their fiction, than this. From Buchan to Maugham, from Greene to Fleming, from Le Carré to Deighton, the most successful masters of the secret agent’s art have often been spies. The Silent Game is an indispensable survey of the genre by an expert who yields to no-one in his knowledge of the undercover world."
    Nicholas Shakespeare, author of Six Minutes in May