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The Secret History of the Five Eyes

The Untold Story of the International Spy Network


Richard Kerbaj

Bloomsbury Square, London: Bonnier Books, 2022

Paperback    416pp    RRP: $34.99


Reviewer: Adrian Catt, April 2023


 This most interesting and revealing work chronologies the evolution of The Five Eyes security and intelligence pact; from formation, through a monumental, chequered history, till its unique and superior present-day dominance of both signals intelligence (SIGINT) and human intelligence (HUMINT) tradecraft.

Commencing with descriptions of the key players and their respective military and domestic intelligence organisations in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America post-WWI, the author brings the reader up-to-date on the development of the Special Arrangement which formed between these two nations, and how since WW2 the pact was expanded to include the governments and intelligence resources of Australia, Canada and New Zealand as partner members of a new working arrangement: The Five Eyes.

Trust is everything in the security intelligence game, so it is not surprising that the Five Eyes have, according to the author, had to sometimes operate outside the scrutiny or accountability of presidents, prime ministers, and government officials. This has been in order to preserve the integrity of intelligence from those whom who held political views contrary to the needs for secrecy, particularly those with personal agendas, or indeed those engaged in espionage.

This book details the most significant political and military events of the last century, and how they have been shaped or addressed by the security and intelligence constituents of the Five Eyes members, including such entities as GCHQ, MI5, MI6, OSS, CIA, FBI, NSA, ASIO, ASD, ASIS, CSIS, GCSB; as well as many as 19 other known entities belonging to a small number of second-tier partners. All of these institutions contribute and share openly in the struggle to counter or defeat rogue nations such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

Covering defections, moles, leaks and industrial espionage of yesteryear, this riveting work shines light on how critical it is for the Five Eyes to be dynamic and trusting, as they strive to defeat our enemies who are hell-bent on sabotaging Western economies and engaging in cyber warfare.

Whist the Five Eyes move at the pace of its quickest movers in their respective specialist fields, trust and secrecy is everything.  The amount of information available to the Five Eyes is almost limitless, and the pressure to be responsible and accountable is traded somewhat for the higher interest of secrecy, and ultimately a safer western world.

Captivating, concise reading - a real eye-opener. Strongly recommended to military and policing readers.



The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.

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