Books about spies and spying were on the menu at the August meeting of the Paddington Library Reading Group. The group discussed the recently published The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay, which gives a thorough account of what life and work was like for people invited to work at the top secret war time code breaking and communications facility in Bedfordshire.
The group also looked at a biography of Ian Fleming, by Andrew Lycett. Fleming was the author of the James Bond series of books, and this biography explores how his wartime experience, career in naval intelligence, and meetings with the CIA and other intelligence agency groups may have inspired some of his writing.
Other books we discussed included a novel published in 1903, The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, an apparently fictional account of a couple of sailors who discover Germany’s secret naval preparations for the invasion of Britain before World War One. The book had a big impact on the attitude of the Foreign Office and the Intelligence services towards Imperial Germany.
Finally we looked at Nine lives: true spy stories from Mata Hari to Kim Philby by another former Intelligence Officer, Fitzroy Maclean.
The next meeting of the Reading Group will be on 9 September, on the theme of Banned Books.