REVIEW: Spies and Saboteurs. Anglo-American Collaboration and Rivalry in Human Intelligence Collection and Special Operations, 1940-45


by Jay Jakub. London: Macmillan Press, Ltd., 1999. 280 pages.


Sixty years of the US/UK "special relationship" has tended to mask the tensions that percolated through the early years of Anglo-American intelligence cooperation in World War II. Two recent works–by Richard Aldrich and Jay Jacub–remind us of both the leadership collaboration that led to the creation of the Office of Strategic Services, America's first central intelligence organization, and the intense rivalries among and between US and British intelligence and special operations services. Deeply divergent operational goals and conflicting political agendas often characterized the organizations, despite their shared anti-Axis strategic orientation. As both books well demonstrate, the organizations warred with each other as much as they worked against a common enemy. In the European and North African theaters, Jakub found many of the same bureaucratic conflicts that plague contemporary interagency cooperation, often acerbated by differences among the military commands that the intelligence units supported. Aldrich argues that divisions ran even deeper in Asia, as the Allies became increasingly wary of each other's future ambitions in the region. Americans saw the British units as the shock forces for the restoration of colonial rule. The British, on the other hand, deeply suspected the OSS of supporting independence movements.

While Aldrich and Jakub tread some common ground, the books are substantially different in orientation as well as geographic sweep. Jakub is more interested in how OSS matured as a field-operating agency and increasingly developed the capacity for independence from its early British mentoring. Aldrich's book ranges widely over a number of critical intelligence issues and is the more compelling of the two. His trenchant treatment of the achievement of strategic surprise against the British in Malaysia and Singapore and the Americans at Pearl Harbor is among the best summations in..

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