Intelligence / Agencies / France

Deacon, Richard. The French Secret Service. London: Grafton Books, 1990. 363 pages.

Richard Deacon is the pen name for Donald McCormick, a writer who is plugged into the British old-boy intelligence network and keeps churning them out. He has also written histories of the Russian, Chinese, Japanese, British, and Israeli secret services, a biography of his close friend Sir Maurice Oldfield, and several other books.

Deacon tends to rely on sources with an axe to grind, but then most of his spook friends, by virtue of their profession, are information hatchet men of one sort or another. As this is the first English-language history of the French secret service, we can't be choosy. He begins his chronology before the revolution, and about one-third through the book has arrived at DeGaulle's World War II resistance, which is where we began reading. The SDECE underwent a name change and became the DGSE in 1982, while counter- intelligence is handled by a separate agency, the DST. One chapter is about the Greenpeace affair of 1985, when French agents sank the Rainbow Warrior while docked at Auckland, New Zealand. But another topic is ignored by Deacon: the extent to which France may be involved with industrial and high-tech spying in countries such as the U.S.


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