With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

Published: 2021 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Allen and Unwin 3. Petrov Royal Commission [Public Domain] via NSW State Library 4. ASIO report. [No known copyright] via Perth Now 5. ASIO listening post. [No known copyright] via ASIO

Dudley and Joan Doherty were employed by Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) during the 1950s. Even though they didn’t reveal to their three children (Mark, Sue-Ellen and Amanda) the significance of their jobs, the children took part in many of the operations, including sheltering Soviet defectors (the Petrovs) in 1956. This is Sue-Ellen Doherty’s story told by journalist Sandra Hogan.

“… a vow is a vow, and a secret is a secret …”

I really enjoyed this book, even though the blurb is somewhat misleading (it’s not particularly funny). Also, quite a lot of the book deals with the relationships among the siblings up to the present-day, whereas the blurb doesn’t mention the journey of discovery that Sue-Ellen (the oldest daughter) undertook to discover the truth about her parents. Actually, I think this part is just as interesting as the spy story.


“Joan and Dudley Doherty fully discussed with each other their decision to be open with the children, even before their first child was born in 1951.”

“Their small living room in Sydney was dominated by a giant listening device trained on the apartment below. It was ASIO’s first bugging operation and it caused a lot of commotion in the family home, with agents there day and night listening with massive earphones, transcribing conversations, or translating.”

Author: Sandra Hogan

Listen: The child spy and her secret agent parents (BBC)

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