Cover Stories: MI6; Adopt-a-Book

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The Independent Culture

MI6 has announced that Keith Jeffery, professor of British history at Queen's University, Belfast, has been given unfettered access to the secret intelligence service archive from 1909 until 1949 - after which, presumably, any embarrassing secrets could impact on today's global politics. The appointment was agreed by John Scarlett, who took over as MI6 chief last year following the Hutton Report. No publishing deal is yet in place, and those hoping to get lucky may well have to troop along to MI6 for an audition. That's what happened earlier this year when half a dozen publishers made their case for Christopher Andrew's authorised history of MI5. It was Stuart Proffitt of Penguin Press who won.

* Haven't done your Christmas shopping? The British Library has the right gift for those of us whose shelves already sag - adoption. The Adopt-a-Book scheme aims to set up funds to help conserve the collections: £25 buys a personalised certificate, while £500 buys not only a certificate but a bookplate in the chosen book, plus a tour of the Library and Conservation Studios. More details from www.bl.uk/adoptabook

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