Giveaway: With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

I’m delighted to be able to offer you the chance to win With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan. With My Little Eye is a fascinating biography by Sandra Hogan of a suburban Australian family of spies. READ MY REVIEW HERE, then enter below.

Courtesy Allen & Unwin

I have 1 print edition of

With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

to giveaway to one lucky Australian resident.

Please leave a comment on this post and then

ENTRY CLOSED

Congratulations Kate C

*PLEASE NOTE: Only Australian residents are eligible to enter*

Entries close 20th February 2021

The giveaway will be random drawing on February 21st and the winner will be notified by email within 48 hours

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Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

Title: With My Little Eye

Author: Sandra Hogan

Published: 3rd February 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read February 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

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My Thoughts:

With My Little Eye is a fascinating biography by Sandra Hogan of a suburban Australian family of spies.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was formed in June 1949 by then Prime Minister Ben Chiefly in response to the discovery through a series of decoded Soviet cables—known as the Venona intercepts—that Soviet spies were active in Australia. During its formative years ASIO’s main focus was on finding and breaking the Russian spy ring, in an operation known as ‘the Case’.

Dudley Doherty, a former supply clerk in the Australian army, was one of the first ASIO officers, joining the agency in November 1949. His new bride, a secretary at the time, joined him at Algincourt, the NSW building that housed ASIO headquarters, in 1950, transcribing intercepted telephone calls. Later that year, the young couple became essential players in Operation Smile, ASIO’s first covert bugging operation. Housed in the apartment above Fedor Nosov, who represented Soviet news agency TASS, Joan’s job was to listen and transcribe any conversation from the flat below, usually accompanied by another officer, while Dudley continued his work elsewhere.

Mark (b. 1951) and Sue-Ellen (b.1953) were born in that same apartment, and though Joan officially resigned from ASIO in late 1953, she continued to assist her husband with his duties when he was transferred to Brisbane, which included hosting former Russian intelligence agents turned defectors, Captain Evdokia Petrov and husband Colonel Vladimir for two months as a safety precaution during the 1956 Olympics held in Melbourne.

“In Brisbane… Joan kept house and raised her children [Amanda was born in 1958] while Dudley went out to work – just like all the other housewives. Except Joan was training her kids in espionage and keeping a careful watch on her neighbours.”

While most intelligence officers keep their work secret, often even their spouse are unaware their partner is a spy, Dudley and Joan ran a ‘family operation’. From birth they were props as their mother eavesdropped in cafe’s, or their father took photos of them at parades. The children were taught to look for people or cars that may be out of place, to recall details of faces and places, to memorise number plates, and never draw attention to themselves. Their parents made many of these activities seem like fun, and Hogan details some of the ‘games’ the family ‘played’, but spy craft is a serious business, and in the Doherty family, work always came first. There were a lot of rules, the most important of which was to maintain secrecy. The children could never question their father, nor his orders, and could not talk about any activity outside of the family.

“Forgetting their childhoods had been essential for their survival, but it came at a cost.”

For Sue-Ellen life as a child spy was complicated, though she proved to have an excellent observation skills and memory, she was not suited to the introverted life. Though she, like her siblings, adhered to the family rules, she resented the many secrets she was forced to keep, despite always being inordinately proud of her father. His sudden death from a heart attack in 1970 when Sue-Ellen was 17 left her devastated. Absent from the family home at the time, Sue-Ellen became convinced her father had not died but had simply gone into deep cover for some undisclosed mission, a belief she held until in her late forties, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It was then that she began to search for information about her father, hoping to learn more about him and make some sense of her childhood, eventually approaching journalist Sandra Hogan for help. Hogan met with Sue-Ellen several times, however information and provable facts were hard to find so the project stalled. It wasn’t until 2011 when ASIO commissioned a book to detail the official history of the organisation (The Spy Catchers pub. 2014), for which Sue-Ellen’s mother, Joan, was interviewed, that Sue-Ellen began to make peace with her childhood.

“When something cannot be talked about, it is hard to believe it’s real. Now there was no doubt about it.”

With some of the secrecy veil lifted, Sue-Ellen and her siblings, who were finally able to talk more freely about their childhood, and gain a fuller picture of the man who was their father. Hogan draws on these conversations, Joan’s memories, interviews with the few of Dudley’s contemporaries still alive, declassified documents and relevant public sources to tell their extraordinary story.

There are flashes of humour in this unusual biography, but I most often found it rather poignant. With My Little Eye is a fascinating account of an unusual family, and their unique role during the infancy of ASIO.

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Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Click below for your chance to win a copy!