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Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda Paperback – May 26, 2009
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"Reveals more concrete information about CIA tradecraft than any book."—The Washington Times
"This is a story I thought could never be told."—James M. Olson, former chief of CIA counterintelligence
"The first comprehensive look at the technical achievements of American espionage from the 1940s to the present."—Wired
About the Author
ROBERT WALLACE is the former director of the CIA's Office of Technical Service and lives in Virginia. A recipient of the CIA's Intelligence Medal of Merit, Wallace founded the Artemus Consulting Group in 2004, providing management and intelligence counsel to corporate and government clients. He is also a contributor to the oral history program of CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence.
H. KEITH MELTON is an internationally recognized author, historian, and expert on clandestine devices and technology. He is the technical tradecraft historian at the Interagency Training Center in Washington, D.C. He has assembled the world's largest collection of espionage devices and lectures widely throughout the U.S. intelligence community and abroad. He resides in Florida.
HENRY ROBERT SCHLESINGER is an author and journalist who has covered intelligence technologies, counterterrorism, and law enforcement. His work has appeared in Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Technology Review, and Smithsonian magazine. He lives in New York City.
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I think this book is fascinating, it's like a sudoku puzzle with very little hints. Its filled with intrigue and deception and that's just the writing style. There seem to be so many statements where something is said only for you to think: "hold on, if that was then and there was 10 years lead over commercial, what does that mean for now?" and of course there are no answers. So the style is great and right where it should be for this style of book.
There was at least one review on amazon that mentioned this was quite dry in places. I tend to disagree. This isn't a Tom Clancy novel, but considering how much potential there was for this to be dreadful, I think the authors did very well indeed. That doesn't mean this is a thrill a minute, but it maintains a consistent pace with lots of great insights and correction over the embellishments that Mission Impossible and James Bond offer. Overall, it probably is actually closest to early Tom Clancy stuff, without the story line.
Also, the title is honest and doesn't avoid saying that the CIA has made mistakes. Some instances it accepts it as a CIA issue, others they were following orders, and other instances again things just didn't work out for unknown reasons. Overall this makes the book feel honest and what you get is a decently lengthy book with the bulk being 25 chapters on operational procedure and technology as well as the history thereof. There isn't a great overwhelming depth to it in terms of politics, and although there is plenty of detail, it doesn't get bogged down in setting the scene of why an operation was happening so much as what the meat of the operation was. In many ways that is what I feel stopped the book from becoming dry, because really, that's not what this title should be about.
Who will enjoy this title? I suspect young adults and teenagers will probably get the most out of it, because although it sets the record straight as far as what the CIA and other organisations could do, it does keep a lot of the magic there, albeit slightly different magic. Also keep in mind that this book is focused on technology and techniques that are either well known or slightly outdated, and for the most part clearly so. So the primary timeframe for most of this is Cold War, with some forays into more current events, however these are few and very quick. I don't think this should be disappointing, but expected, still given the lack of political context this might be very confusing for very young people who don't know about the Cold War. Overall I really enjoyed the title, it read at a decent pace which was much better than I expected, and was definitely worth the time. On the whole I would say the content matched my expectation and I'd argue that really is a great outcome for the authors, not because of my high expectations but because they presented their material well to give a sense of there not being loose ends.
While reconnaissance satellites can show what physical movements are taken by nations and NGOs, HUMINT or human intelligence is needed by policy makers to decide if a bluff is being made or deterrence will be required. SPYCRAFT shows how the CIA has used innovation and daring in the gathering and transmitting of HUMINT. The innovation of inventing tools is used for gathering and transmitting of intelligence. The personal risk involved usually doesn't involve gun-play or some melodramatic heroism. Personal risk is about not getting caught and taking personal risk to protect a source or helping an exposed source from deadly reprisal.
Too often, the public sees the Central Intelligence Agency as later day Keystone Kops or Americanized versions of James Bond. Neither stereotype is accurate. SPYCRAFT demonstrates that the people who work at the CIA are everyday Americans who have decided to take up the cause of maintaining the peace by sustaining a professional intelligence organization.
I have been glued to this book since it arrived. There are so many speculative books on the subject of intelligence and the CIA. It's exciting to have one endorsed by the Agency itself and written by former agents. For a total history of the Office of Technical Services and all the best spy gadgets a man could embrace, and how they came about and were used go no further. The author is obviously an absolute expert on the subject. Each part dating back to WWII and the cold war era contains so many factual details, you feel immersed in the scene. To make it all the better, it's non-fiction!
Thanks to the authors for such a great book and to the CIA for letting them publish it.
the historical CIA and the Cold WAR.(I know cause I am former U.S. Secret Service)