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The postwar MI6 saw its role as “insurance against war.” And in postwar liaison with the new CIA, Peter Dyer, the service’s man in Washington, noted that while the Americans “had relied heavily on us during the war,” the time had come for when the CIA “must stand on its own feet or get out of the business.” In due course, the CIA-MI6 cooperation became a key factor in waging the Cold War.

In sum: This is a read that is sometimes tough, but nonetheless invaluable for anyone who wishes to explore the inner workings of an intelligence service. Five cloaks, five daggers.

Joseph C. Goulden is preparing a revised edition of his 1986 book, “The Dictionary of Espionage: Spookspeak Into English.”