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Declassified: 50 Top-Secret Documents That Changed History Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 20, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Adult/High School—Allen presents scans of original documents followed by clear commentary detailing the events surrounding the texts. The book covers a wide span of time, making it a resource that will pique the interest of almost any history lover. Highlights include a simple baker uncovering a British spy during the American Revolution, Stalin's support of Kim Il Sung during the Korean War, and a report sent to George W. Bush in August 2001 suggesting the possibility of an attack on U.S. soil organized by Osama bin Laden. Largely focused on the U.S., the volume does include documents and tales from the Soviet Union, Germany, France, Israel, and a handful of other nations. Chapters are arranged by theme, such as "The Secret State" and "Espionage Accidents," making this an easy read. The primary-source material of spy stories, shrewd political moves, and hidden aspects of war shows how conflicts between nations persist during times of peace. The book also serves as a good quick-reference tool. An index allows users to look up documents by nation, major historical figure, and subject. Thought-provoking and enjoyable, this unique collection tells stories often neglected in history class.—Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Thomas B. Allen is the award-winning author of 30 books on subjects ranging from military history to sharks, and is a frequent contributor to National Geographic magazine. His title Spy Book, co-authored with Norman Polmar, is the principal source book for the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Tom Allen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, where he is a founding member of the Writer’s Center.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (May 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426202229
  • ASIN: B005Q5W8RW
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,820,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Secrets are the currency by which countries maintain control of their borders and war with other nations. In the book Declassified: 50 Top-Secret Documents That Changed History, Thomas B. Allen lists 50 documents, once secret but now declassified, that had large impacts on people, countries, and the world. Throughout, I kept wondering how many more documents are hidden that would have the same effect these days. My guess is plenty...

Contents:
Part 1 - Secrets of War: Spying on the Armada; Washington Finds a Spy; Benedict Arnold Becomes a Spy; The Lady Is a Spy; A Golden Export to Canada; T.R. Remembers the Maine; A Telegram's Special Delivery; The Man Who Started a War; Eavesdropping on Roosevelt and Churchill; Planning the "Final Solution"; Seeking Justice for Saboteurs; Stalin Approves a War; The Pentagon Papers' Legacy; 16 Troublesome Words
Part 2 - Double Agents, Turncoats, and Traitors: Captain Henry's $50,000 Letters; Lincoln's Double Agent; Whose Ace of Spies?; The Double Agent's Dog; The Spy in the Tunnel; The Pumpkin Papers
Part 3 - Counterintelligence - Spy vs.
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Format: Hardcover
The universe of books presenting lists of 50 or 100 people, battles, wars, weapons, aircraft, events, incidents, etc. appears populated by an infinite quantity, suggesting that perhaps some one should prepare a book of the 50 or 100 best such list titles? Nevertheless, Thomas Allen and National Geographic have broken new ground with this interesting and useful work that brings together 50 formerly secret documents and their associated stories, each presented as a single chapter and including an assessment of the surrounding episodes' impact on history. As a collection of free-standing individual stories - one per chapter - the book can be read straight through or the reader can choose to just dip into it at different points to read a chapter here or another chapter there and not lose anything by ignoring the collection's chronological structure. The book also provides a bibliography and a list of Internet sites that offer the interested reader additional information on each of the stories presented therein.

The 50 selected "secret documents" presented here cover a span of history from the reign of England's Queen Elizabeth up through the American Revolution, the American Civil War, both world wars, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam war, and finally the events of September 11, 2001 and first administration of President George W. Bush. The individuals revealed in these accounts include soldiers, politicians, spies, double agents, triple agents, spymasters, valets, crowned heads of state, elected presidents, dictators, and even ordinary citizens. A number of the presented tales also show the often-unhappy end awaiting the practioners of the black arts of espionage, as a number are imprisoned, lost at sea, or otherwise disappear from history into obscurity and to unknown ends.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Allen has written an interesting book. He briefly discusses 50 of the most important/prominent espionage stories in history. The only issue I have with the book is the discussion of each story often seemed too brief. Most sections only contained three or four pages, giving only the briefest glimpse of the incident. In spite of this, the book works well as an introduction to espionage.

The title is somewhat misleading, while the book attaches some type of document to each of the 50 incidents, in many of the cases the document is only of minor importance. Additionally several of the incidents involve documents that are not what the average person would consider "declassified".
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