Over the years St. Ermin’s Hotel in Westminster has hosted many a spook. During World War Two, Special Operations Executive (SOE) used part of the hotel for their first headquarters. The Security Service (MI5) occupied the top two floors (storing high explosives there!) and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) had a training section there too.
Malcolm Muggeridge; Kim Philby, Ian Fleming, Graham Greene Noel Coward and Paul Dehn were amongst the intelligence officers who either trained or worked there.
In recognition of the hotel’s long connection with the intelligence community, the hotel has launched the Intelligence Book of the Year Award. This is open to all non-fiction titles published in English in the previous calendar year concerned with the world of intelligence and espionage which, in the opinion of the judges, add substantially to the published literature.
On Tuesday 12th June, in the company of former intelligence officers and a cloak of espionage writers, Vadim Birstein, a Russian Scientist and Historian, was declared winner of the St Ermin’s Hotel INTELLIGENCE BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD for SMERSH: Stalin’s Secret Weapon Soviet Military Counterintelligence in WWII. He collected an award prize cheque for £3,000.
The judges were: Andrew Lownie, Dan Mulvenna, Glenmore Trenearn-Harvey, Michael Smith and Nigel West. They said of the book: “Unquestionably one of the most comprehensive, insightful contributions to intelligence literature, and undoubtedly now regarded as the standard work on what many of us would have considered an almost impossible subject to undertake. However, this is a very absorbing, thoroughly readable, extraordinarily detailed account of an organisation that many people thought was a figment of Ian Fleming’s imagination. SMERSH had terrible, bloody history and the author tells us every compelling detail.”
The winning book and the shortlisted books are available directly from Amazon: