William Wickham, Master Spy: The Secret War Against the French Revolution

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-08-01
  • Publisher: Pickering & Chatto Ltd

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William Wickham (1761-1840) was Britain's master spy on the Continent for more than five years during the French Revolutionary wars. He was the creator and head of a small and highly organized secret service unit, and was sent on missions to Europe and Ireland. He is the only important political figure of the period not to have been the subject of a modern biography. This study follows Wickham's career to narrate the rise and fall of his secret service community.Durey sees in Wickham a peculiarly eighteenth-century, whiggish patriotism: he served king and country, but he also bore loyalty to a political family that was based around his Christ Church connections. However, Wickham became increasingly disillusioned with undercover work and the secret service. He was unable to reconcile the part he played as a diplomat-spy in aiding and financing the self-determination of Switzerland, with his work as domestic security chief when he had plotted the end of self-determination in Ireland. Viewing this as an irresolvable dilemma, he resigned in 1804.

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