"Absent History" is an account of the multi-faceted activities of the British Special Branch as it tackled problems of religious extremism, espionage and sedition in Singapore from 1915 to 1942. It documents the severe threats to security and stability beneath the placid peacefulness of that period. Drawing upon previously unavailable archival materials, "Absent History" reveals the often-privileged view that the Special Branch had of the events and strands of Malayan / Singapore history. The early decades of the 20th Century in Singapore and Malaya was not the period of halcyon peacefulness that popular opinion depicted. Throughout these years, a successive number of countries carried out active espionage and subversion efforts against the colonial government. As these threats accelerated, causing considerable social and security unrest, the British stepped up their counter-espionage and counter-subversion. In 1916 they set up a Special Branch, the predecessor to Singapore's Internal Security Department and the Malayan Special Branch.