Spymaster The Man Who Saved MI6 Helen Fry

Publication date:
12 Oct 2021
Yale University Press
360 pages: 235 x 156mm
24 b-w illus. + 1 map
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The dramatic story of a man who stood at the center of British intelligence operations, the ultimate spymaster of World War Two: Thomas Kendrick

Thomas Kendrick (1881–1972) was central to the British Secret Service from its beginnings through to the Second World War. Under the guise of "British Passport Officer," he ran spy networks across Europe, facilitated the escape of Austrian Jews, and later went on to set up the "M Room," a listening operation which elicited information of the same significance and scope as Bletchley Park. Yet the work of Kendrick, and its full significance, remains largely unknown.
Helen Fry draws on extensive original research to tell the story of this remarkable British intelligence officer. Kendrick’s life sheds light on the development of MI6 itself—he was one of the few men to serve Britain across three wars, two of which while working for the British Secret Service. Fry explores the private and public sides of Kendrick, revealing him to be the epitome of the "English gent"—easily able to charm those around him and scrupulously secretive.

Historian and biographer Helen Fry is the author of Yale books MI9 (2020), The London Cage (2017), and The Walls Have Ears (2019) and more than twenty books focusing on intelligence, prisoners of war, and the social history of World War II.

“Fry...has done a remarkable job of reconstructing the life, networks and secrets of a man who spent most of his existence hiding them.”—James Owen, The Times

“A remarkable piece of historical detective work...Now, thanks to this groundbreaking book, the result of years of meticulous research and expert analysis, Kendrick’s role as one of the great spymasters of the 20th century can be revealed.”—Saul David, The Daily Telegraph

“Helen’s style of writing and choice of words is refreshing and a delight to read. Her research has been extremely meticulous and has undoubtedly resulted in one of MI6’s most successful intelligence officers.”—Fred Judge, Intelligence Corps Historian

“Fry’s achievement in Spymaster is a considerable one. She tells a remarkable story, exploring both the private and the public life of Thomas Kendrick.” —Ahron Bregman, Jewish Chronicle

"Riveting and meticulously-researched. Fry explores the darkest recesses of global intelligence services during a most tumultuous and formative period. Raising questions that challenge established truths, Spymaster will intrigue and educate even the most informed minds."—Charlotte Philby, author of A Double Life

"A fascinating account of a very singular life.. the remarkable story of a rather obscure intelligence professional who had quite an impact on modern history."—Nigel West, author of Spy Swap: The Humiliation of Russia's Intelligence Services

“Thomas Kendrick was a game changer, an original thinker and the ultimate spymaster. Thank you Helen Fry for bringing him back to life. This is a must read for everyone interested in British intelligence: a history that combines pace, humanity and forensic detail to build a picture of an astonishing career and individual.”—Tessa Dunlop, author of The Bletchley Girls

Rescues from history the untold but important story of the MI6 officer who helped save so many people from the clutches of the Nazis in late 1930s’ Vienna. A really fascinating read.”—Stephen Dorril, author MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations

"You probably haven't heard of Thomas Kendrick - and that's the way he'd have wanted it - but his story deserves to be told. Helen Fry's book uncovers the amazing hidden story of an espionage pioneer who risked the wrath of the Gestapo to rescue Austrian Jews."—Robert Hutton, author of Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5's Secret Nazi Hunter