The Spy Toolkit
Dr Stephen Twigge
Reviewed by Peter Brian
This pocket sized hardback book consists of photographs and illustrations selected from the National Archives to demonstrate the more bizarre side of spying and resistance during the Second World War. From dummy tank track markings to exploding cigarettes, the imagination of the Special Operations Executive must surely have been a valuable contribution to Victory in Europe. Those of us that remember watching Rene and Edith wrestle with an exploding Gateaux in the Chateau on a Saturday tea time will be surprised at how sometimes the truth is more bizarre than fiction.
The book begins with a brief chapter on the history of the Special Operations Executive and their German counterparts. The rest however, is made up entirely of black and white photos with very little text other than brief explanations of what you are looking at. The images are grouped into categories including secret agents, booby traps, incendiary devices and disguise and deception. This book does not pretend to be a heavy read and seems to be intended as a light humourous book. It does however, serve as an excellent introduction to the subject.
This is a fascinating if brief insight into the stranger than fiction world of spies during World War Two. I am sure this is only a tiny amount of what the National Archive has to offer.