From Publishers Weekly
This compact study contrasts the fictional treatment of espionage with its real life machinations, and manages to be both informative and entertaining in spite of its modest size. The author, a former CIA officer now teaching at Johns Hopkins, focuses particularly on how living a double life affects the players personalities. Each part of the actual spies careerfrom recruitment (or recruiting others) to arrest or retirementis studied in terms of how differing character traits often lead to different sets of decisions in the construction of a shadow self, and how spies re-train their physical and emotional instincts so that their new personalities feel natural. Such alterations are part and parcel of "tradecraft"; CIA traitor Aldrich Ames and the famous Soviet Colonel Oleg Penkovsky may have been deadly, but they were sloppy in keeping their spy personae and actions consistent, while FBI mole Richard Hanssen was exquisitely careful except where one woman was concerned. (Yes, sex is a part of many espionage scenariosthough Hitz suggests that that these arrangements are more complex than any a novelist would dare create.) Hitz then goes on to analyze fictional spies, giving John Le Carres creations high marks, as well as Somerset Maughams Ashenden, based on the authors WWI experience with British intelligence. Hitz also has good things to say about Tom Clancys characters, notably Marko Ramius of Red October. As for the future of spying, Hitz believes that satellite-based snooping will exist alongside "human intelligence," but that even the office technocrats behind the controls will have tics that affect their workand the information they gather.
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Hitz, who has had a lengthy career in the Central Intelligence Agency, expounds in varied and interesting ways on how the literature of espionage compares with its actual practice. Copiously quoting from classics ranging from Rudyard Kipling's Kim
(1901) to W. Somerset Maugham's Ashenden
(1928) to the cold war convolutions of Graham Greene and John le Carre, Hitz concludes that in most instances truth is more surprising and peculiar than fiction. Breaking the espionage trade into its components, such as recruiting spies, Hitz discusses the rarity with which recruitment pitches succeed in real operations; typically, spies are not seduced but voluntarily offer their services (e.g., Oleg Penkovsky and Robert Hanssen). Yet counterexamples, such as the Soviets' recruitment of mole Kim Philby, present models that le Carre crafted into his novels about mole-hunter George Smiley. Hitz feels that such creations, while reflecting the psychology of this secretive world, cannot keep up with the motivations that lie behind real-life betrayals and deceptions. Perfect for spy-story fans who crave an insider's assessment of the reality behind the entertainment. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved