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In January 1941, the twenty-four year old Noel Annan was assigned to Military Intelligence in Whitehall, where for the next four years he was to be involved in the crucial work of interpreting information supplied by a network of agents throughout occupied Europe and by the Ultra code-breakers at Bletchley Park. From Winston Churchill to Bomber Harris to the great minds at Bletchley, he describes in superbly characterised detail the people and the problems involved in this unusual and difficult work, which was to play such a vital role in the Allied victory.
Immediately after the war in Europe ended, Noel Annan was seconded to the British Zone in defeated Germany to help rebuild the country which he and his colleagues had so recently been working to destroy. Germany’s cities were in ruins, its people starving and demoralized, its industry smashed. Britain was changing enemies: from being the ally of the Western Powers, Soviet Russia now became a foe, and Annan got to know the new generation of German politicians who were to bring about the economic miracle that led to the country’s renaissance. His account of this pivotal of European history is both fascinating in itself and of considerable importance to our understanding of Europe as it is today.
‘Compact, critical, stimulating . . . obligatory reading for all contemporary historians.’ Asa Briggs, Financial Times
‘Nothing he has written is more fascinating. . . As history written by a participant, the book succeeds triumphantly.’ John Grigg, Evening Standard
‘A quite splendid example of how personal reminiscence can enrich historical understanding in the hands of a gifted writer.’ Raymond Carr, Spectator
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