SOE, the Special Operations Executive, was a small, tough British secret service, a dirty tricks department, set up in July 1940. Its job was to support and stimulate resistance in occupied countries. After the end of the war it was closed up. SOE's total strength was never more than 10,000 men and 3200 women - over a third of them active secret agents - it exercised vast influence on the war all over the world. North American newspaper editors, South American businessmen, Spanish smugglers, Abyssinian tribesmen, Norwegian mountaineers, French farmers, schoolchildren and hat-makers, Dutch printers, Belgian, Danish, Czech and Polish railway porters, Greek brigands, Serb, Croat, Slovene and Bulgar peasants, Romanian, Turkish and Swedish policemen, Chinese tycoons and guerillas, Naga and Karenni hillmen, Malayan rubber workers, Siamese noblemen - these were some of the groups whose lives were affected, sometimes dominated, by SOE. This book explains how SOE was created and run, the calibre of the men and women who fought in it, what tools they used, how and where they applied them, where they did well and where they did badly. Like any other group, they made some mistakes, they also displayed the highest qualities of character, courage and devotion to freedom.