Title:                      The Infernal Grove

Author:                Malcolm Muggeridge

Muggeridge, Malcolm (1973). The Infernal Grove. Chronicles Of Wasted Time, no. 2. London: Collins

LCCN:    74157829

PR6025.U5 Z515 vol. 2



Date Updated:  March 12, 2015

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

World War I produced its literary critics of secret service such as Compton Mackenzie; World War II brought forth Muggeridge among others. This second volume of his memoirs is a delightful, iconoclastic account of his experiences, including lengthy accounts of his work as an intelligence officer of SIS in Mozambique and intelligence liaison with the French in North Africa and Europe. Superbly written, his book is a collection of memorable phrase and bon mots about intelligence that are good for the intelligence officer’s perspective and sense of humor. Two chapters in particular are recommended (“On Secret Service” and “The Victor’s Camp”) for what Muggeridge has to say about Bletchley Park material and its use in operations and for his anecdotes about Kim Philby and his experiences as a chief of station in Africa. He had, in the past, been a staunch defender of Philby against suspicions of his loyalty. The reader should keep in mind that this was published the same year as Winterbotham’s The Ultra Secret[2] and divulges some of the secrets of the Allied communications intelligence success. Muggeridge had done so earlier (1967) when he speculated in an article that the British used Lucy in Switzerland as the channel to disguise and pass the Soviets intelligence derived from deciphered German traffic. This “ferocious critic” of the wartime SIS, to use an expression from one review, had one of his operations, run jointly with OSS, described in the latter’s history (see Cave Brown’s The Secret War Report of the OSS[3]). Other items to catch the eye in Muggeridge’s account include Philby’s insistence that all Bletchley Park material should go to the Soviets, the British reading of Gaullist traffic, glimpses of the Tyler Kent trial, and the myth of security involving Bletchley Park material, with the French in Algiers supposedly not aware of this source.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 342-343

[2] Winterbotham, Frederick William(1974). The Ultra Secret. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson

[3] Cave Brown, Anthony (1976) ed. The Secret War Report of The OSS. New York: Berkley


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