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Espionage: The Greatest Spy Operations of the Twentieth Century Paperback – September 3, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0471161578 ISBN-10: 0471161578

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (September 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471161578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471161578
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This collection of espionage and intelligence stories will entertain a wide variety of readers. Each chapter is a good yarn, from the reconstruction of the ULTRA operation, in which the British solved German coded communications, giving the Allies advance warning of Hitler's military intentions, to the misbegotten OSS operation called Cornflakes, which sought to disrupt German morale with altered postage stamps ("a purely lunatic intelligence enterprise that used vast resources to accomplish absolutely nothing"). Other episodes include the Allied deception that convinced the Germans the Normandy landings were a feint, the intelligence disaster at Pearl Harbor, the story of the Walker family spy ring and the "mole wars" between the KGB and the CIA. Volkman (Warriors of the Night) offers a memorable depiction of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, rescuer of Hungarian Jews from the Gestapo; the circumstances of his disappearance in 1945 remain a mystery despite the Russian archival material the author quotes regarding Wallenberg's death. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This undemanding book of stories, about ten pages each, touches on some of the important, dramatic, and occasionally obscure spy stories of the century. Well, almost?they generally deal with the United States and World War II and Soviet/Cold War espionage. Sometimes the purple prose finds melodrama where it may not really exist: "It was, she thought, something very much like a high-wire act: one small slip and she would fall to her death." Lacking depth or original analysis, these tales?written in a solid Boy's Life style?make quick, pleasant but forgettable reading. Buy only where demand is great for books on espionage.?H. Steck, SUNY at Cortland
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Very well written.
Trusted.Dealer
2nd, the only source of this story was in the post-war testimony of Pal Szalai, who claimed that it was him, not Wallenberg, who met with Schmidhuber.
Yuri Khripin
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in espionage, the inner workings of politics, or just looking for a good book to read.
Lem Bryant (lem@lem.net)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frank on October 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I have read a number of books dealing with some of the same cases Volkman describes. Volkman is not only easy to read, but also does a great job presenting the facts of the case, the milieu of each case, and how each case affected history. He describes, somewhat, the mindset of espionage officers who sometimes prefer quantity over quality, and tradecraft and history as incidental to the cases. He includes some photographs and a helpful index. He often throws in details I don't remember seeing in other more detailed and lengthy works.
Some of the cases Volkman writes about are the "Trust" operation (early Soviet sting of anti-Soviets), Cuban doubling of US agents, British doubling of Nazi agents (Double Cross), code-breaking, atomic bomb secrets, the Wallenbergs in WWII, WWI German sabotage in U.S., the Angleton/Philby mole affair, etc.
Volkman is both willing and able to point out each country's successes and failures -- even when success is based on happenstance and failure is based on incredibly poor judgment.
Here's one passage: "[in 1978], Hu Simeng worked for the Chinese, who did not know that she also worked for the East Germans, who did not know that she was a Chinese asset, but who did know that she worked for the CIA, which didn't know she also worked for both the Chinese and the East Germans. The material she provided the Chinese was in fact East German and KGB disinformation, but the Chinese knew that, so they provided disinformation for Hu Simeng to give to the East Germans...."
Criticisms include that he occasionally reaches too facile a conclusion (Wallenberg was killed by Soviets in 1947 instead of the lengthy imprisonment other sources describe), and at least one minor factual error (the bomb "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki, not Hiroshima).
In sum, an excellent book for anyone mildly interested in the topic, or very interested.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anthony M. Frasca on October 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is basically a series of short stories dealing with major spy operations, mostly involving World War II. The stories are interesting and well written but there is a certain similarity and synergism to the stories that does not come out well in this format. Also, the author gives compelling evidence that Amelia Earhart was on an espionage mission when she disappeared but the story leaves you wanting more.
I would use this book as an introduction to this genre and if you are interested there are a number of novels dealing with the individual stories. A number of books have been written about the Walker spy ring as well as other spy operations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on April 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Ernest Volkman is a former prize-winning investigative reporter for 'Newsday' who is an authority on espionage and intelligence. He has written other books. These 22 chapters are called "The Greatest Spy Operations of the 20th Century", and are classified as "Grand Deceptions", "Spies in the Ether", "The Enemy Within", "A Wilderness of Mirrors", "Disasters", and "Spectaculars". This is an entertaining and very readable book, but it is not the definitive history of any of the operations described here. Most occurred since WW I. There is an 'Index' but no Bibliography for additional information. Some of the operations are well-known, others will be news.

Chapter 1 does not mention that none of the Great Powers were prepared to extend WW I and attack Soviet Russia. Elsewhere Volkman tells of the difficulties of operating in a "police state". Chapter 2 tells of another deception operation in Cuba. An operation that aided the Normandy invasion is in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 tells about the Double Cross operation, another "Trust Operation". Dusko Popov's book provides another view (p.45). (Volkman doesn't tell how MI5 rounded up all German spies in 1914.) [Does this chapter echo the difficulties of operating in a "police state"?] Chapter 5 tells about the operation that inspired the movie "The House on 92nd Street". Chapter 6, 7, and 8 tell about codes and ciphers that were broken to provide intelligence about enemy activities. Anwar Sadat aided a German spy (p.85).

Chapter 9, 10, 11, and 12 tell about espionage in a country that revealed technical secrets of Nazi Germany, the American atomic bomb, German sabotage during WW I, and Soviet military intelligence. Chapter 13, 14, 15, and 16 tell about "moles", double agents who work for the other side.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TheHighlander on May 7, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I thought this was a good book and covered some very interesting topics I found myself a bit disappointed that the stories did not delve deeper into what they initially touched on. I would have enjoyed this more had the book been, say, three times as long and the stories gone deeper. I finished each chapter, or case, realizing that this was quite interesting and insightful to what had happened, many times in a historical concept. But found myself wondering about the little intricacies that would have been necessary to pull these capers off.
This book is would be a good start to preview some espionage cases and pick the ones you like to research further.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lem Bryant (lem@lem.net) on November 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
From beginning to end a very gripping tale. This book revealsthe story behind the story on many of histories great espionage cases.Mr. Volkman masterfully weaves history into an exciting tale. You will learn things that you didn't know and at the same time read a book that doesn't put you to sleep. I had trouble just putting it down. If all history books were written this well I would have gotten better grades in school.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in espionage, the inner workings of politics, or just looking for a good book to read.
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