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The Clandestine Lives of Colonel David Smiley

Code Name 'Grin'

Clive Jones

Hardback (Forthcoming)

An academic biography of Colonel David de Crespigny Smiley and his intimate involvement in British secret service operations

  • Draws on extensive interviews and archival research, including 20 hours of interview conducted with Colonel David Smiley himself
  • Uncovers the motivations and ideals that informed Smiley’s commitment to covert action and intelligence during the Second World War and early part of the Cold War, often among tribally based societies
  • Addresses the wider issues of accountability and control of clandestine operations, referring in particular to operations in Albania, Oman and Yemen

This book illuminates the shadowy world of covert British intelligence through an exploration of the life of one of Britain’s foremost exponents of irregular warfare. With a particular focus on operations in the Balkans and the Middle East, it offers a granular understanding of the motivations and ideals that informed Smiley’s commitment to covert action and intelligence, both during the Second World War and in the early Cold War era.

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1. From the Cradle to Palestine

2. From Palestine to Abyssinia

3. Desert Wars

4. From the Regular to Irregular

5. A Matter called ‘Concensus’

6. Three Majors. Two for Politics, One for Fighting

7. Burnt but Alive

8. Between Ubon and a Hard Place

9. From Espionage to Sabotage

10. Subversion and the Ceremonial

11. As Tough as Teak

12. Our Man in the Yemen

13. An Uncomplicated Patriot



About the Author

Clive Jones is Professor of Regional Security (Middle East) in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University and Visiting Research Professor in the Department of Historical Studies, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has published widely on the history and politics of the Middle East with a particular focus on Israel/Palestine and the Gulf. His book Britain and the Yemen Civil War (Sussex Academic Press, 2010) was the subject of a BBC documentary.


Clive Jones’ life and times of David Smiley is a wonderful book. It is hugely entertaining and engaging, as well as an impressive piece of scholarship and historical detective work. A fitting biography for one of the true legends of British covert military operations during the twentieth century.

- Rory Miller, Georgetown University Qatar

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