This is very much a book for the specialist reader. It assumes a great deal of knowledge which makes it impossible for the general reader to glean much from it. It would probably help if the Appendix: A Note on Method had been at the front of the book as a preface.This would have given a clear indication of what the author was trying to achieve even though it does not say much about the actual method used. It would help even more if the author had stuck to the rules he set himself in this appendix, especially with regard to the use of names, if only for the sake of clarity.

There are also some unfortunate authorial or editorial lapses in the book, of which the most spectacular is the reference to ANC armed cadres infiltrating what was to become Zimbabwe from north of the Limpopo. Given that the whole of Zimbabwe is north of the Limpopo, this is either the wrong river, the wrong country or, much less credibly, the wrong direction and the wrong organisation. Unfortunately, it is impossible to work out what is meant, which reduces the whole section to nonsense.

The bigger difficulty, however, is that the author is forced to rely, as is the case with the history of all clandestine operations, on gossip, rumour, occasional innuendo and memoirs written long after the events being described, as documents either do not exist, are not yet available to historians, or are not specific. Gossip is usually mischievous, even if not downright malicious, rumour is generally inaccurate, innuendo has to be interpreted, and memoirs are generally biassed. The problem with using sources of this kind is that they have to be interpreted with a great deal of caution. Sometimes, what is reported as a rumour at the start of a paragraph becomes established fact by its end. In some cases, this happens within a sentence.

On occasions, I have to question the judgement of the author. The accusation that Oliver Tambo, a man known for his honesty and integrity, lied on the basis of what appears to me to be very flimsy evidence leads me to doubt the author's judgement, and his ability to interpret the evidence before him with the necessary caution.

There are whole sections of the book where I have no method of testing the accuracy of what is being said, except through my own memory as someone who was peripherally involved in these events as a member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. And my memory is, of course, both biassed in my favour, and may be inaccurate. From what I can judge through my own experience, however, the author is misinterpreting events, on occasion, and sometimes, as in the example quoted above about Zimbabwe, is just plain wrong.

This is a shame, because the subject is deserving of academic treatment. I just feel that it could be done much better than this.