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History Happy Hour

Episode 94: London's House of Spies

The Secret History of the SOE: Special Operations Executive 1940-1945, William Mackenzie This is the definitive account of the SOE during World War II. It can be a bit dry at times, but there is no better book that accounts, in some detail, the incredible history of this remarkable wartime organization.

SNOW: The Double Life of a World War II Spy, Nigel West and Madoc Roberts The book discusses the wartime career of Arthur Owens-agent SNOW-and the critical role he played in the British double cross operations that, early in the war, neutralized Germany’s agents in Britain. Meetings at St. Ermin’s are described in the book.

House of Spies: St. Ermin’s Hotel, the London Base of British Espionage, Peter Matthews This book is much more of a general history than the title suggests and much of what the author discusses is covered in more detail in Mackenzie. That being said, when Matthews does discuss the goings on at St. Ermin’s the accounts are fascinating.

Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat, Giles Milton History Happy Hour alumnus Milton has provided the most recent history of SOE. Much of the ground has been covered in earlier works, but Milton brings top shelf writing and a wealth of interesting anecdotes to the story. Well worth a read.

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