Over the last couple of weeks I have had a bit of fun with a few of my posts. The first was when I reviewed The Man From UNCLE book, The Affair Of The Gunrunner’s Gold. In that review I cheekily claimed that T.H.R.U.S.H. were an Australian organisation, founded on nothing beyond the fact that all the villains in the book were Australian. Later I had a look at some acronyms for various fictional spy organisations. Once again T.H.R.U.S.H. came to the forefront when I mentioned that T.H.R.U.S.H. was the acronym for Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. As fellow COBRAS agent Christopher Mills pointed out:
‘… to be fair, Thrush was not an acronym on the television series; it was made into one by David McDaniel in his first U.N.C.L.E. novel.”
Now the book that Christopher was referring to is The Dagger Affair, and I thought that the passage that reveals T.H.R.U.S.H.s name was well worth sharing with you, firstly it debunks my Australian theory (well I didn’t see that happening!) But towards the end, it hints at who may have been the founder (or at least the inspiration) for T.H.R.U.S.H.
But first, lets look at the passage in question – here we find Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin and Alexander Waverley in discussion with a higher echelon T.H.R.U.S.H. operative.
From The Dagger Affair
Written by David McDaniel
Souvenir Press 1966
Baldwin’s eyes glittered under the yellow gaslight as he smiled with pleasure. “Why, Mr. Solo? did you expect an underground fortress or some futuristic architectural monstrosity crouching on a hilltop? Such melodramatic locations, I am aware, are favored by some of our branches, but life underground makes my joints stiff, and a strange building on a hilltop is far too obvious a target for my peace of mind. Were you looking for some sign of criminal conspiracy in the household or in our behavior? Any physical evidence would not be noticeable to even the most acute observer, I assure you, and if our behavior were effected by conscience or fear we would have long ago left this organization. Were you to break faith with our agreement and attempt to arrest Robin, my wife or myself at this very moment, you would not be able to find a single scrap of material evidence that would indicate we are anything except what we seem – an aging cripple, his wife, and his private nurse, living on assorted pensions and dividends from old investments.”
His eyes held Napoleon’s a fraction of a second longer, and then turned to Waverly as the latter asked, “I suppose that, like myself, you have been working in Thrush since it’s inception?”
“I am flattered, Mr. Waverly, but no. The Hierarchy has been around longer than either of us. I came into contact with it while recovering from the Great War…”
“The Hierarchy?” said Napoleon and Illya together, sharing the vague feeling they had been expected to give the straight line.
“Originally The Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity,” said Baldwin. “Since reduced to its initials by a generation trained to speak and think in shorthand.”
Napoleon’s eyebrows went up in spite of himself. “The Technological Hierarchy for what?”
Baldwin patiently repeated the name, and then continued. “Shall I give you the basic orientation lecture, somewhat edited from the one-hour version? You seem to know little beyond the current state of the Hierarchy, for all your intelligence sources.”
He looked them over like a schoolmaster who has found his pupils have not been following his lectures.
“In its present state the Hierarchy dates back to the year 1895, when the First Council met in London. The First Council was made up of the survivors of an unnamed organization which had been built entirely from nothing by one of the most brilliant men the world has ever known. The Professor was a genius in two slightly related fields – mathematics and crime. In 1879 he began to construct a web of power which covered all of Europe and was extending its tentacles into America by the time he was killed in 1891.
“He had made no provisions for his own sudden death. Under the constant harassment of the law and its representatives, and with its guiding mind and heart gone, his network fell apart.
“But in 1895, several men who had held high positions under the Professor met in counsel at the Northumberland Hotel. Out of that counsel was born the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.”
So there we have it. The birth of T.H.R.U.S.H. – well at least, according to David McDaniel. And that brings us to the next revelation – who is the mysterious Professor who set up the foundations for T.H.R.U.S.H? Could it be Professor Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime – Sherlock Holmes arch-nemesis? Well I am not too sure. The dates don’t appear to add up. I think it was after 1891 when Holmes and Moriarty went over the Reichenbach Falls (?). But feel free to correct me – the Holmesian timeline does tend to skip around a bit.