The Eagle in the Mirror (Hardcover)

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Part biography, part forensic jigsaw puzzle, part cold-case detective investigation, The Eagle in the Mirror is the astonishing untold story of Charles Howard “Dick” Ellis, the Australian-born British intelligence officer and master spy accused by some espionage experts of being the traitor of the century.

The longest serving spy for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Ellis came to New York at the beginning of World War II as deputy to William Stephenson at British Security Coordination (BSC) and helped set up for William Donovan the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), what would eventually evolve into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). At one point in the 1940s he was considered one of the top three secret agents in MI6, controlling its activities “for half the world.”

Ellis allegedly received prior warning of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and, through the conduit of Stephenson, relayed that warning to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After World War II, Ellis was awarded the Legion of Merit by President Harry S. Truman.

But in the 1980s espionage writer Chapman Pincher and retired Security Service (MI5) intelligence officer Peter Wright posthumously accused Ellis of having operated as a “triple agent” for Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

In 1965, while under interrogation in London, Ellis had allegedly made a confession that he had supplied information to the Nazis prior to the war. The scope of Ellis’s purported betrayal was considered even worse than notorious British traitor and double agent Kim Philby, who defected to the Soviet Union in 1963.

However, Pincher’s and Wright’s accusations against Ellis have never been comprehensively proven. Was Ellis guilty or was an innocent man framed? Did he take the fall for someone else? Or had the intelligence agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia been fatally compromised by a “super-mole”?

Jesse Fink unravels a gripping real-life international whodunit in this long-overdue biography of the unheralded Dick Ellis, one of the most consequential figures in modern history.

About the Author

Jesse Fink is an internationally bestselling nonfiction author whose acclaimed biographies include Bon: The Last Highway, The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, Pure Narco: One Man’s True Story of 25 Years Inside the Cartels, and The Eagle in the Mirror. His books have been published in twenty countries in thirteen languages. Please visit him online at

Praise For…

Praise for The Eagle in the Mirror

The Eagle in the Mirror immerses readers in spycraft and molehunts and emerges as a captivating biography. Acknowledging the challenges in reevaluating the life and work of the besmirched Ellis, Fink does a more than admirable job, ultimately offering a book capable of opening minds.”  Booklist

“Jesse Fink’s passion to uncover the true story of Dick Ellis is an engaging journey through espionage in the post-WWI and WWII era. The highlight of the story for me was understanding just how much fear, deceit, and mystery were in the daily lives of British intelligence officers of the day.” —Ronald Drabkin, author of Beverly Hills Spy: The Double-Agent War Hero Who Helped Japan Attack Pearl Harbor
“Very interesting indeed. With some real digging for information, Fink does a very good job of showing the inadequacies of certain writers and that there is little or no real evidence that Ellis was an agent either for the Nazis or the Soviets.” —Stephen Dorril, author of MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations and MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service

“Great tale of espionage. The Eagle in the Mirror is a successful rehabilitation of a master spy who was unfairly accused of being a double agent, and even a triple agent, at the service of Germany and the Soviet Union. . . . After a relentless investigation, Jesse Fink’s book does justice to Ellis.” —Taline Ter Minassian, author of Most Secret Agent of Empire: Reginald Teague-Jones, Master Spy of the Great Game

“A highly significant contribution to the literature of intelligence. . . . Fink has performed some extremely important research.” —Antony Percy, author of Misdefending the Realm: How MI5’s Incompetence Enabled Communist Subversion of Britain’s Institutions during the Nazi-Soviet Pact

The Eagle and the Mirror traces the life of spymaster Dick Ellis, an Australian-born Brit who became one of MI6’s most senior officers and helped found both the American OSS and Australian SIS. Jesse Fink meticulously pieces together hundreds of fragments and mentions of Ellis to construct a mosaic image of one of the 20th-century intelligence community’s most elusive and controversial figures. Despite his towering accomplishments, Ellis stands accused of being not only a double agent for the Nazis but a triple agent for the Soviet Union. Fink spent years collecting and making sense of the entire body of evidence against Ellis—including a great deal of circumstantial evidence and unsubstantiated innuendo—and then methodically and clearheadedly analyzes each piece of it in an effort to determine once and for all if Ellis was or wasn’t one of the greatest traitors of our time. This book is a fascinating and comprehensive look at one of the most private and undocumented figures of the 20th century. Fink is scrupulous in citing his sources, verifying each fact to the fullest possible extent and faithfully reporting conflicting information, which he leaves to the reader to weigh and decide what is closest to the truth. A rollercoaster ride of ‘did he or didn’t he,’ this ambitious biography reads more like a high-stakes spy novel as Fink winds through the web of secrets and treachery that finally ensnared Ellis and left both his career and reputation in ruins. By examining the man’s life and work in their totality, Fink definitively paints a picture of whether or not Ellis was a traitor or the victim of a smear campaign that was at best petty and at worst an attack from within the Kremlin itself. This fascinating glimpse inside the world of real spies and the dangerous, convoluted, silent wars they wage on behalf of their countries will mesmerize you from start to finish. Tackling the life of an extremely private man who left little to no record of his life behind was a monumental task, but one Fink was fully up to in this brilliantly executed biography. This enthralling story finally brings clarity to one of the muddiest episodes in modern intelligence history. A must-read for anyone with an interest in World War II, the Cold War, or in understanding the nuance and complexity of the world spies inhabit.” —Cindy Dees, New York Times bestselling author of Second Shot and Double Tap

“Remarkable story. . . . If this book tells us anything, it is the difficulty of knowing the truth of anything in the world of the security services.” —Michael Sexton, Australian Book Review

“This engrossing book makes a powerful case for Ellis to be seen as a hero.” —Simon Caterson, The Australian

“Forensic and engrossing. The point of Fink’s work is to convincingly demolish various attacks on Ellis’s reputation, especially the self-serving accusations of treacherous dealings, first with the Nazis and then the Soviet Union, made by a phalanx of bitter, or simply gullible, ‘insiders.’ . . . It was all nonsense, if Fink is to be believed, and I think he can be. . . . Ellis, who died in 1975, was interrogated in 1966. Nothing of any substance was found. But the mere fact that he’d been questioned spawned an orgy of bestselling ‘exposes,’ penned for profit by men who had never felt at home with truth or loyalty. Fink’s comprehensive exoneration, while as complex as the subject demands, is written by a fellow who clearly values both.” —Pat Sheil, The Sydney Morning Herald

“Jesse Fink plays detective and uncovers the fascinating real story about Ellis. Highly readable.” —Jeff Popple, Canberra Daily

“An important book on a figure who deserves proper historical attention.” —Giles Scott-Smith, dean, Leiden University College, The Hague

Product Details
ISBN: 9780806543680
ISBN-10: 080654368X
Publisher: Citadel
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English