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Secret Classrooms

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Paul Dukes reviews a study of the Joint Services School for Linguists, set up during the Cold War to aid UK intelligence operations.

  • Secret Classrooms: An Untold Story of the Cold War by Geoffrey Elliott and Harold Shukman, with an Introduction by D. M. Thomas
    St Ermin's Press in association with Little, Brown   x + 246pp.  £18.99 
    ISBN 1 903608 09 0
    HISTORY TODAY BOOKSHOP £15.99

As the Cold War intensified, realisation dawned on politicians and service chiefs that the United Kingdom needed a pool of intelligence personnel familiar enough with the Russian language to be able to carry out tasks ranging from radio interception to interrogation. For these purposes, a Joint Services School for Linguists was set up in 1951, and continued its work until 1960. Nearly all the students were national servicemen, while most of the teachers were émigrés from the Soviet Union and other countries of Eastern Europe.

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