Accession Number : ADA526375


Title :   In the Service of Empire: Imperialism and the British Spy Thriller, 1901-1914


Descriptive Note : Journal article


Corporate Author : CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WASHINGTON DC CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF INTELLIGENCE


Personal Author(s) : Moran, Christopher R ; Johnson, Robert


Full Text : https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a526375.pdf


Report Date : Jun 2010


Pagination or Media Count : 23


Abstract : In the decade before the First World War, the British spy thriller was a cultural phenomenon drawing large and expectant readerships across all classes and catapulting its authors to prominence as spokesmen for then widely prevalent concerns about imperial strength, national power, and foreign espionage. Three hundred is a conservative estimate of the number of spy novels that went into print between 1901 and 1914. This article reflects upon some of the seminal publications from the period, including Rudyard Kipling's Kim (1901), the tale of a streetwise orphan who trains as a spy and becomes embroiled in the intelligence duel on India's North-West Frontier; Erskine Childers's The Riddle of the Sands (1903), the story of two gentleman yachtsmen who, cruising in the North Sea, stumble upon a secret German plot to invade England; and William le Queux's Spies of the Kaiser (1909), a dire prophecy of German espionage in advance of an invasion. While it is clear that Kipling, Childers, and le Queux were prone to exaggeration, their works were based on reality and, more importantly, reflected both an idealized view of Britain's imperial needs and a desire for greater security. The anxieties they represented were not entirely without foundation and appear all the more authentic when we remember that they were often passed on by military figures. Fiction is more believable when anchored in reality, and it is the case that early 20th century spy fiction was used to push genuine agendas, including calls for a national service army, a larger navy, and a secret service. Though they celebrated imperialism and the qualities that built it, they also represented a tool for the mobilization of opinion and stood as clarion calls against perceived complacency in Whitehall.


Descriptors :   *FIRST WORLD WAR , *UNITED KINGDOM , *PUBLIC OPINION , *POLICIES , *INTELLIGENCE , *BOOKS , *ESPIONAGE , GEOPOLITICS , FRANCE , HISTORY , RUSSIA , GERMANY(EAST AND WEST) , NORTH SEA , PROPAGANDA , ANXIETY , VULNERABILITY , POLITICAL ALLIANCES , COMBAT READINESS , THREATS , GOVERNMENT(FOREIGN) , CENTRAL ASIA , INDIA , REPRINTS


Subject Categories : Information Science
      Government and Political Science
      Humanities and History
      Military Intelligence


Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE