The Life and Mysterious Death of Ian MacKintosh


The Life and Mysterious Death of Ian MacKintosh

The Inside Story of The Sandbaggers and Television's Top Spy

Robert G. Folsom
Foreword by Nigel West

224 pages


June 2012


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2012


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2012


$36.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

No spy drama has ever matched The Sandbaggers, which featured a tiny, covert intelligence unit based in London during the Cold War. The show that the New York Times called the “best spy series in television history” was the vision of Ian MacKintosh, who was among the first writers to present espionage realistically—as a sordid series of political struggles, double crosses, and personality clashes.

The Life and Mysterious Death of Ian MacKintosh provides a behind-the-scenes look at the show that forever changed the spy genre. Readers will also gain insight into the enigmatic and accomplished MacKintosh. A Royal Navy lieutenant commander, he spent part of his service at the Admiralty’s Department of Naval Intelligence, once one of the world’s ranking espionage operations. He retired early and penned thirteen books and a number of television series, including the classic Warship.

A leading authority on aircraft, MacKintosh was also one of the youngest recipients of the Member of the Order of the British Empire, an honor one step below knighthood, for his still-classified exploits. His disappearance without a trace on July 7, 1979—nineteen days before his thirty-ninth birthday—while flying with two companions over the Gulf of Alaska (which happened to be teeming with Soviet submarines and other spycraft) remains a mystery, as the British government declined to investigate the incident. Robert Folsom takes readers inside the world of The Sandbaggers and Ian MacKintosh, whose ultimate fate is a plot twist worthy of his own trailblazing creations.

Author Bio

Robert G. Folsom, the author of The Money Trail: How Elmer Irey and His T-Men Brought Down America’s Criminal Elite (2010), is a former reporter and editor with more than thirty years’ experience on daily newspapers and a freelance writer on intelligence, counterintelligence, and law enforcement. He served as the director of information services at Florida International University before returning to journalism. He lives in Gainesville, Georgia.


The Life and Mysterious Death of Ian MacKintosh can be read on several levels: as a book on popular culture as exhibited in a 1970s television show, as a window into understanding the ethical dilemmas faced by the espionage profession, and as a biography of a man who was enigmatic in both the way he lived and died. Robert Folsom writes in an easy style that allows the reader to follow along from the alleyways behind the Iron Curtain to the London studios of the BBC to the wilds of Alaska. This is the story of an insider who had both access to British intelligence work and internal conflict accepting how it is conducted.”—Jan Goldman, editor of the International Journal of Intelligence Ethics and founder of the International Ethics Intelligence Association

“Essential reading for any student of the cloak-and-dagger world. This book unravels the fascinating tale of one of the most important fictional representations of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.”—Richard J. Aldrich, author of GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency

“Through The Sandbaggers, Ian MacKintosh gave the world one of its most thoughtful, challenging, satisfying, and convincing espionage dramas, a television series at least the equal of literary tales by such figures as John le Carré, Len Deighton, and Ian Fleming. In this well-researched and engaging book, Folsom provides an account of MacKintosh and his work that is just as thoughtful, challenging, and satisfying.”—Philip H. J. Davies, author of MI6 and the Machinery of Spying and Intelligence and Government in Britain and the United States

“Robert Folsom’s excellent book is a fascinating investigation into the mysterious death of the creator of one of the most authentic spy series ever seen on TV. Even now, former intelligence officer Ian MacKintosh’s original outline for The Sandbaggers reveals more authentic detail on the operations of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service than most of the so-called exposés of MI6.”—Michael Smith, author of Six: The Real James Bonds

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