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Book: Secret Classrooms Author: Harold Shukman and Geoffrey Elliott Price: (St Ermin’s, ?18.99)

The cold war was like a ramshackle building, with many odd corners. I found myself in one of them when I arrived in an army pick-up truck in the mid-Cornwall town of Bodmin, one grey 1950s November. With a batch of other national service conscripts, I was joining the joint services school for linguists (JSSL), usually called “the Russian course,” at a windswept camp behind the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry barracks.

The ministry of defence had decided it needed more Russian speakers to monitor Soviet signals…

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