The Puppet Masters

Standalone title

This book explores the secret world of military intelligence, written by a senior intelligence officer

John Hughes-Wilson is a former intelligence officer and is ideally placed to reveal the secret history of military intelligence. He takes us ‘behind the scenes’ of military and political events from Elizabeth I to Osama bin Laden and the crisis in the Middle East.

The book is divided into three parts. The first investigates some famous disasters when lack of intelligence was the decisive factor, e.g. Gallipoli and Dieppe. The second examines some equally famous examples of good intelligence being overlooked or ignored, e.g. the ‘bridge too far’ battle of Arnhem. The last part goes behind the scenes of some famous successes, from the capture of Slobodan Milosevic to the defeat of IRA bombing campaigns and the arrest of a spy ring at the heart of NATO.

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Book reviews

‘A comprehensive and accessible read’ Christopher Curwen, former head, MI6

Reader reviews

‘This is exactly what you need to learn more about the world of espionage (and this is not just spying, as the author points out). John Hughes-Wilson describes all of the different ways in which intelligence shaped the world as we know it, and the curious lack of acknowledgement from military leaders for these efforts. He traces how intelligence was used in military campaigns ranging from the Old Testament to the Cold War, and then beyond. The tone of the book is informative and frequently broken up by humorous anecdotes. This is a great updated version which takes a look at the terrifying new battleground of intelligence versus terrorism.’

‘An excellent insight into political incompetence, corruption and missed chances. The greatest danger is always the human element: “Put not your faith in princes”.’

‘Tremendous read and an absorbing history debunking generally held beliefs. Among other things shows how bloody minded world leaders ignored intelligence and caused millions of unnecessary casualties.’