Nigel West is the pen name of Rupert Allason, a military historian and author specialising in intelligence and security issues.
Born in Lambeth, Nigel West was educated at a Roman Catholic monastery and London University. While still an undergraduate he worked as a researcher for the authors Ronald Seth and Richard Deacon, who both specialised in security and intelligence issues. In 1977 Nigel joined BBC TV's General Features Department to make television documentaries, and he worked on the SPY! and ESCAPE! series.
His first book, written with Richard Deacon, was based on the first series and was entitled SPY! Thereafter he was commissioned to write a wartime history of the Security Service, MI5, which was published in 1981, and since then he has averaged one book of non-fiction a year, including The Secret War for the Falklands released in January 1997. He has concentrated on security and intelligence issues and his controversial books invariably hit the headlines.
He was injuncted by the Attorney-General in 1982 and was served a Public Interest Immunity Certificate signed by the Home Secretary in 1987. He was voted 'The Experts' Expert' by a panel of other spy writers in The Observer in November 1989 and the Sunday Times has commented: 'His information is so precise that many people believe he is the unofficial historian of the secret services. West's sources are undoubtedly excellent. His books are peppered with deliberate clues to potential front-page stories.'
Nigel West often speaks at intelligence seminars and has lectured at both the KGB headquarters in Dzerzhinsky Square and at the CIA headquarters in Langley, where he once lectured on counter-intelligence to an audience that included the Soviet spy Aldrich Ames. He now teaches members of the intelligence community at the Counter-Intelligence Centre in Washington DC (www.cicentre.com).
He is on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence and World War II Quarterly. In 2003 Nigel West was awarded the US Association of Former Intelligence Officers’ first Lifetime Literature Achievement Award. In 2011 he was appointed chairman of the St Ermin’s Intelligence Book of the Year panel of judges.
1. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller - all the world's paradoxes contained in a single tale of wartime truth.
2. Ancestral Vices by Tom Sharpe - the only book that will make your chest hurt from laughing outloud.
3. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne - unadulterated wisdom from a smarter than average bear.