Spy Books

Which intelligence and espionage books are worth reading? Whether you’ve already been on the tours (or you’re about to), and want to learn more then take a look at the following. All spy books listed are personally recommended by ‘Trail guide Brian Gray .

Do bear in mind, this list is neither exhaustive or definitive. Nor is it ordered in any way. It simply comprises the spy books read so far which are noteworthy. Rest assured: as more good titles are read and rated positively, they’ll appear here.

Gordon Thomas (2009) Inside British Intelligence: 100 Years of MI5 and MI6 (J.R. Books Ltd.)
Michael Smith (2004) The Spying Game (Politico’s)
Stephen Dorrill (1993) The Silent Conspiracy: Inside the Intelligence Services in the 1990’s (Mandarin)
Stephen Grey (2015) The New Spymasters: Inside Espionage from the Cold War to Global Terror (Viking)

Christopher Andrew (2010) The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 (Penguin)
Chapman Pincher (2009) Treachery: Betrayal, Blunders, and Cover-ups (Random House)
Nigel West (1987) Molehunt: The Full Story of the Soviet Spy in MI5 (Coronet)
Stella Rimington (2001) Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director General of MI5 (Hutchinson)
Tom Marcus (2017) Soldier Spy (Penguin)
Henry Hemming (2017) M: Maxwell Knight, MI5’s Greatest Spymaster (Penguin)

Michael Smith (2010) Six: A History of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Part I (Biteback Publishing Ltd.)
Keith Jeffrey (2010) MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 (Bloomsbury)
Nigel West (2006) At Her Majesty’s Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britain’s Intelligence Agency, MI6 (Greenhill Books)
Alan Judd (2000) The Quest for ‘C’: Mansfield Cumming and the Founding of the Secret Service (Harper Press)
Michael Smith (1999) Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews (Hodder & Stoughton)  *** NOTE: New updated edition published 2016 by Biteback Publishing. ***

Michael Smith (2011) The Secrets of Station X (Biteback)
Richard Aldrich (2011) GCHQ (Harper Press)

Miranda Carter (2002) Anthony Blunt: His Lives (Pan Macmillan)
Roger Hermiston (2014) The Greatest Traitor: The Secret Lives of George Blake (Aurum Press)
Andrew Lownie (2016) Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess (Hodder)
Tim Milne (2015) Kim Philby: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal (Biteback)
Ben Macintyre (2015) A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal (Bloomsbury)
Nigel West & Oleg Tsarev (2009) Triplex: Secrets from the Cambridge Spies (Yale University Press)
Michael Smith (2017)
The Anatomy of a Traitor: A history of espionage and betrayal (Aurum Press)

Christopher Andrew & Vasili Mitrokhin
(2000) The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West (Penguin)
Oleg Kalugin (2009) Spymaster: My Thirty-Two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West (Basic Books)
Vin Arthey (2015) Abel: The True Story of the Spy They Traded for Gary Powers (Biteback)
Ben Macintyre (2018) The Spy and the Traitor (Viking)

WWII / Special Operations Executive (SOE)
Ben Macintyre
(2010) Operation Mincemeat (Bloomsbury)
Nicholas Rankin (2008) Churchill’s Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945 (Faber)
Roderick Bailey (2009) Forgotten Voices of the Secret War (Ebury Press)
M.R.D. Foot (1999) SOE: The Special Operations Executive 1940-1946 (Pimlico)
Tania Szabo (2015) Young, Brave and Beautiful: The Missions of Special Operations Executive Agent Lieutenant Violette Szabó (The History Press)
Nicholas Rankin (2012)
Ian Fleming’s Commandos: The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII (Faber & Faber)

Brian Jones (2010) Failing Intelligence (Biteback Publishing)
Neil Mackay (2006) The War on Truth (Sunday Herald Books)
Norman Baker (2007) The Strange Death of David Kelly (Methuen)
Richard Norton-Taylor (1995) Truth Is a Difficult Concept: Inside the Scott Enquiry (4th Estate)
Paul Henderson (1993) The Unlikely Spy (Bloomsbury)
“The Downing Street Memos” available at
The Iraq Inquiry and subsequent Chilcot Report (2016) available at

Ben MacIntyre (2008) For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming + James Bond (Bloomsbury)
Ray Wilson & Ian Adams (2015) Special Branch: A History: 1883-2006 (Biteback)
Chapman Pincher (2014, originally published 1981) Their Trade is Treachery (Biteback)


What spook books do YOU recommend? Do tell!

Chosen by members of the international intelligence, security, military and diplomatic communities.