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Spy of the Century (ePub)

Alfred Redl and the Betrayal of Austria-Hungary

Military WWI > By Year > 1914 WWI > By Year > 1915 WWI > By Year > 1916 WWI > By Year > 1917 WWI > By Year > 1918

By Silvie Fisch, John Sadler
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 5.3 MB (.epub)
Pages: 170
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781473848719
Published: 2nd November 2016


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During the night of 24 to 25 May 1913 three high-ranking military officials wait for hours outside a house in central Vienna. At around 2am they hear the shot of a Browning. They know that one of their own has just ended his life: Colonel Alfred Redl, the former deputy head of the Evidenzbüro, the Austro-Hungarian General Staff’s directorate of military intelligence. His suicide note reads: ‘Levity and passion have destroyed me’.
Redl would later be called the ‘spy of the century’, and this is his story. For a decade he had betrayed damaging secrets to the Italians, French and Russians.
Redl owed everything to the army he deceived. For almost 100 years there was no definite explanation of his motives. The true story has only recently been reconstructed when Austrian historians gained access to documents in Russian archives. Redl was forced to hide his homosexuality and used his wealth to please his love, a young cavalryman. Vienna might have been a fount of end-of-empire decadence, but the taint of homosexuality was wholly unacceptable.

Spy of the Century is an excellent book for understanding the political and social environment in the Austro-Hungarian Empire of the early 20th century.

Read the complete review here.

Roads To The Great War Blog

The authors have… managed to give us what is probably be the best account of Redl’s life and military career so far, while throwing some light on the military, social, cultural, and intelligence milieu in which he thrived.

New York Military Affairs

In the decade leading up to war, Colonel Alfred Redl, deputy head of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff's directorate of military intelligence had betrayed his country's secrets to the Italians, French and Russians. At 2.00am and 25th May 1913 he took his own life with a single shot from a Browning. This book tells his story for the first time following the rediscovery of long lost records. A tragic story emerges of a man forced to hide his true sexuality and who used his wealth to please his younger lover. The scandal was huge and spawned many myths and legends. Now, for the first time, after more than 100 years the true story has been pieced together.

Fascinating work. 10/10

The Great War Magazine, January 2017

This book tells the story of someone most of us will never have heard of. John and Silvie have uncovered a fascinating story about a man who played around with military secrets before passing them on to his country's enemies. Sensational!

Books Monthly, January 2017 – reviewed by Paul Norman

In war, and in the steps to war, single individuals frequently make significant contributions to the course of events
through espionage. The nature of their craft often means that their actions go unnoticed for many years or, sometimes, for ever. This
first full biography in English of Alfred Redl is a much under-told story that contains all the elements of a cracking fictional tale of
spies. Strongly Recommended.

Read the full review here.


About Silvie Fisch

Silvie Fisch grew up in Bavaria, where she studied cultural anthropology, European ethnology, German literature and linguistics. She works in arts and heritage management and has published various academic as well as fictional titles in Germany.

About John Sadler

John Sadler was born and bred in Northumberland and he has worked for most of his career in the law. He is an expert on the history of warfare and a prolific writer on the subject. His many books include Battle for Northumbria, Scottish Battles, War in the North 1461-1464, Border Fury: The Three Hundred Years War, Culloden 1746, Bannockburn: Battle for Liberty and The Second Barons' War: Simon de Montfort and the Battles of Lewes and Evesham.

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