Gill Bennett MA, OBE, FRHistS is an Associate Fellow of RUSI. She was Chief Historian of the Foreign Office from 1995-2005, and senior editor of its official history of British foreign policy, Documents on British Policy Overseas. As a historian in Whitehall for over forty years, she provided historical advice to twelve foreign secretaries under six prime ministers, from Edward Heath to Tony Blair. In 1998, in her role as Chief Historian of the Foreign Office, she was commissioned to write a report into the Zinoviev Letter affair for the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook. A specialist in the history of secret intelligence, Gill published a ground-breaking biography, Churchill's Man of Mystery: Desmond Morton and the World of Intelligence (2006). Her most recent book, Six Moments of Crisis: Inside British Foreign Policy, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013.
A brilliant, gripping dissection of the most famous 'fake news' in twentieth-century Britain and its dramatic impact on relations with Russia, British politics, and the intelligence services. * Christopher Andrew, Emeritus Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, University of Cambridge, and author of The Secret World: A History of Intelligence * Did Gill Bennett, the Miss Marple of secret service archives, have a premonition when setting out to write this fascinating book, that current events would shape its market? The Zinoviev Letter has the lot - possible subversion of a Western democratic election, forged documents, fake news, clandestine networks and an array of characters straight out of Central Casting. The ultimate mystery of who wrote the 1924 letter, which was read round the world, still remains. But Gill Bennett's account is the closest we have got so far to finding out who did what, with what and for whom. * Lord Peter Hennessy * [A] superb book, a compelling mixture of history, anecdote and historiography ... Bennett tells a story that could have been a plot from an Ealing comedy, featuring a motley crew of retired services types and chancers, cynical Foreign Office mandarins, inept politicians, intriguing Bolsheviks and dispossessed White Russians ... [a] careful and scrupulous study. * Simon Heffer, Literary Review * A well-written, scrupulously researched and argued account of an enduring mystery that neatly illustrates the haphazard interactions of politics, bureaucracy and history. In the absence of further new evidence, this book is as close as we're likely to get to a definitive account. * Alan Judd, The Spectator * In an age of fake news , when the Zinoviev Letter continues to be used as shorthand for establishment skulduggery, historians have an important role in separating myth from fact, even if many of those facts are, frustratingly, far from clear. This book is a timely addition to that cause. * Giles Udy, The Times *