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Christopher Andrew

Christopher Maurice Andrew (born 23 July 1941) is a British historian and professor with a special interest in international relations and in particular the history of intelligence services.



He is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, former Chair of the History Faculty at Cambridge University, Official Historian of the Security Service (MI5), Honorary Air Commodore of 7006 Squadron (Intelligence) in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, Chair of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, and former Visiting Professor at Harvard, Toronto and Canberra. Professor Andrew is also co-editor of Intelligence and National Security, and a regular presenter of BBC Radio and TV documentaries, including the Radio Four series What If?. His twelve previous books include a number of path-breaking studies on the use and abuse of secret intelligence in modern history. He is currently a governor of Norwich School and President of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

Along with fellow historian and former Times reporter Peter Hennessy, Christopher Andrew studied under the historian and wartime cryptanalyst Sir Harry Hinsley.[1] As some of the first professional historians to pursue intelligence history as an independent field of study, the two can be considered the "fathers" of intelligence studies. Former students of Andrew--including Peter Jackson, Richard Aldrich and Wesley Wark--now staff the intelligence studies and intelligence history posts in universities around the English-speaking world.

Professor Andrew's reputation as an historian of intelligence studies was cemented with two studies completed in collaboration with two KGB defectors, Oleg Gordievsky and Vasili Mitrokhin. The first of these works, KGB: The Inside Story was a scholarly work on the history of KGB actions against the West produced from archival and open sources, with the critical addition of information from the KGB defector Gordievsky. His two most detailed works about the KGB were produced in collaboration with KGB defector and archivist Vasili Mitrokhin, who over the course of several years recopied vast numbers of KGB archive documents as they were being moved for long storage. Exfiltrated by the Secret Intelligence Service in 1992, Mitrokhin and his documents were made available to Andrew after an initial and thorough review by the security services. Both volumes, 1999's The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB and the 2005 edition The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World (both volumes simply titled "The Mitrokhin Archive" in UK publication) resulted in some public scandal as they revealed the names of former KGB agents and collaborators in government, industry and private life around the world. [2] Most famous amongst these was the revelation of the "Grandmother Spy", 87-year old Melita Norwood, who had passed industrial information and other intelligence to the KGB for more than 50 years. [3]

The Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, chaired by Prof. Andrew (and founded by his late mentor Harry Hinsley), convenes regularly in rooms at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Active and former senior members of various intelligence services around the world participate in the discussions, with most participants made up of Andrew's graduate students, fellow historians and other academics. At these meetings, detailed analysis of various past and present intelligence affairs is discussed under the Chatham House Rule, with the confidence that it will not be attributed to a person or organisation. [4].

He is widely recognized as one of the kindest academics at Cambridge University. His helpfulness has been appreciated by dozens of historians over the decades. One of the key things about him both as a teacher and as the organizer of the Intelligence Seminar is that he is one of the few professors at any University, let alone Cambridge, whose jokes are laughed at because they are actually funny rather than out of politeness. (It is said that even if the speaker at his seminar is boring - which, it should be said is unusual - at least Professor Andrew's jokes are funny).[citation needed]


In February 2003, Andrew accepted the post of official historian for the Security Service, being chartered to write an official history of the service due for their centennial in 2009. This appointment--which entailed Andrew's enrollment into the Security Service--drew criticism from some historians and commentators. In general, these criticisms drew heavily on the suggestion that he was too close to MI5 to be impartial, and that indeed his link with the Service (formalised with his privileged access to the defectors Gordievsky and Mitrokhin) made him a "court historian" instead of a clear-eyed and critical historian.[5] Persistent--if unfounded--rumours that Andrew was "MI5's main recruiter in Cambridge" have done little to quiet critics.[6] Professor Andrew's response to these criticisms has been that he cannot afford to be biased towards the service. As The Guardian quoted Andrew, "Posterity and postgraduates are breathing down my neck. I tell my PhD students: I know you can only get on in the profession by assaulting teachers. You are not going to make a reputation by saying 'Look, Professor Andrew was right all along the line'." [7] MI5's files will eventually be opened to others to inspect, and Andrew suggests that should he white-wash the history now, he will be found out and his entire corpus of work undermined.

Regardless of criticism, Christopher Andrew remains a critical figure in the introduction of intelligence as a legitimate field of academic study. Through his efforts, and those of his peers and students, intelligence has become a field not simply reserved for secret government formulation or--conversely--fiction and conspiracy theory, but rather a function of governance deserving of theorization, study, and critique.

His books

  • Théophile Delcassé and the Making of the Entente Cordiale (1968)
  • France Overseas: The Great War and the Climax of French Overseas Expansion (1980) (with A.S. Kanya-Forstner)
  • The Missing Dimension: Governments and Intelligence Communities in the Twentieth Century(1984) (with David Dilks)
  • Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community (1985)
  • Her Majesty's Secret Service:The Making of the British Intelligence Community (American Edition 1986,1987)
  • Codebreaking and Signals Intelligence (1986)
  • Intelligence and International Relations 1900-1945 (1987) (with Jeremy Noakes)
  • KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev (1990) (with Oleg Gordievsky)
  • Instructions from The Centre: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations 1975-1985 (1991) (published in the USA as: Comrade Kryuchkov's Instructions) (with Oleg Gordievsky)
  • More Instructions from The Centre: Top Secret Files on KGB Global Operations 1975-1985 (1992) (with Oleg Gordievsky)
  • For The President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush (1995) * Eternal Vigilance? Fifty Years of the CIA (1997) (with Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones)
  • The Mitrokhin Archive. Vol. I: The KGB in Europe and the West (1999) (with Vasili Mitrokhin)
  • The Mitrokhin Archive. Vol. II: The KGB and the World (2005) (with Vasili Mitrokhin)


  1. ^ Peter Hennessey, forward to Understanding Intelligence in the Twenty-First Century, LV Scott and Peter Jackson, eds. London: 2004.
  2. ^ UK House of Commons, Hansard Debates 21 October 1999, Columns 587-594
  3. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | Melita Norwood: A secret life
  4. ^ Ronen Bergman, "חלום מודיעיני רטוב" ("An Intelligence Wet Dream") (in Hebrew), Yediot Aharonot, March 9, 2007. (NB: Bergman incorrectly refers to the Intelligence Seminar as the "British Intelligence Study Group", possibly confusing it with the Study Group on Intelligence, of which Prof Andrew is also a member)
  5. ^ "Higher Education: Just How Intelligent" in The Guardian, February 18, 2003
  6. ^ The people that talk about terror
  7. ^ "Higher Education: Just How Intelligent" in The Guardian, February 18, 2003

See also

Categories: 1941 births | Living people | Espionage historians | Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge | Alumni of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge | Royal Air Force officers holding honorary commissionsHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since May 2008

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