In August 1909, a kindly, balding, figure named Mansfield Smith-Cumming was summoned to London by Admiral Alexander Bethell, Director of Naval Intelligence. He was to assume the inaugural position of Chief - more famously known as 'C' - of what has become one of the world's leading intelligence agencies, the British Secret Intelligence Service. Whilst the organisation has developed in the 100 years since its inception, the position of C, currently held by Alex Younger, has in many respects remained unchanged. This remarkable book tells the story of that role, from Smith-Cumming to Younger, and each of the other fourteen Cs in between, all of whom still get reports headed 'CX' i.e. Cumming Exclusively. Each biography is set against the intriguing political backdrop of the period, from the days leading up to the First World War, through the Nazi regime in Germany, the Cold War battle with Soviet Russia, to the present terrorist threats. The result is an absorbing and highly entertaining portrait of the mysterious world of global espionage. 'A revelatory and refreshing work with significant new information about the fascinating history of MI6.West is a skilled and entertaining writer.'
Tim Newark, Military History