Spies: The Undercover World of Secrets, Gadgets and Lies
Spies: The Undercover World of Secrets, Gadgets and Lies
Spies: The Undercover World of Secrets, Gadgets and Lies Spies: The Undercover World of Secrets, Gadgets and Lies Spies: The Undercover World of Secrets, Gadgets and Lies Spies: The Undercover World of Secrets, Gadgets and Lies

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Publisher: Firefly Books

Author Statement: David Owen, foreword by Antonio J. Mendez
Audience: Juvenile
Age range lower: 10
Age range upper: 14
Specs: 300 color illustrations, 20 case studies, glossary, index
Pages: 128
Trim Size: 5 3/4" x 9"
Language code 1: eng
Publication Date: 20040703
Price: Select Below

Spies: The Undercover World of Secrets, Gadgets and Lies

An illustrated history of spying from ancient times through to the current War on Terrorism. Spies looks at both the changing technology and the consistent need for an artful spy on the ground, and includes case studies and side bar features.

An illustrated guide to the deadly world of espionage.

Agents, double agents and multiple agents are vital to waging war successfully and they often help nations avoid war altogether. Spies have affected the outcomes of wars and crucial battles throughout history.

Spies exposes the secret successes and public failures of intelligence gathering and operations from ancient times to the current war on terrorism.

Using easy-to-follow illustrated case studies and sidebar features, Spies reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of famous spies, international secrets, betrayals and bravery in the long history of spying.

The book describes in exciting detail:

  • The art of spy tradecraft
  • Techniques spies use to gather and send secrets
  • Devices used to steal state secrets
  • How agents survive in hostile environments
  • Whether or not spies like James Bond really exist.

Today, sophisticated digital and space-based technology gathers untold amounts of raw data. Yet far from rendering the spy on the ground obsolete, human intelligence is more vital than ever to separate the truth from the deception.

Spies is a factual and fascinating look into a dangerous world where nothing is what it appears to be.


David Owen writes extensively on military deception, electronic intelligence, and computer crime. He is the author of Hidden Evidence and Final Frontier.

Antonio J. Mendez is a retired CIA agent and author. He is a consultant to the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. and was recognized as one of the CIA's top agents.



Secret codes... hidden cameras and recorders... stolen microfilm exploding pens... a lone agent veiled in shadows. These images come to mind when we think about espionage -- acts designed to steal the ideas, plans or capabilities of an enemy or possible enemy. Since ancient times, soldiers have wondered: What lies over the hill? Where are the enemy's strongholds? Are they hiding men or matériel? Do they have any weakness that could be used to defeat them? Exposing these secrets can change the outcome of a battle or shorten a war campaign and save lives.

Spies are also vital in times of political tension rather than war. Knowing an adversary's true bargaining position can give one side a huge advantage when signing treaties or settling claims over disputed territory. At times, military leaders have decided to launch attacks after finding out secrets that showed the enemy was weak. Espionage can help make the world safer. During the Cold War, a show of power was important. Both East and West had to know each nation could destroy the other. That way, neither would want to press the nuclear button.

Yet, when it comes to gathering human intelligence, who is the real spymaster? Is the agent who returns from enemy country really telling you what you need to know -- or what your adversary wants you to think? Even when people rely on electronic intelligence rather than personal accounts, their opponents can give them false information. The double-edged nature of espionage makes this high-stakes activity even more fascinating. The use of double, triple or even multiple agents can create confusion and keep people guessing. If an agent might be working for the other side, why not trick his or her 'employer'? Instead of catching the agent and cutting off that line of communication, you can feed a double agent false information and give the enemy a false sense of security. In reality, the spy takes them information that you want them to believe and brings back planted information that can show what secrets the enemy wants to hide. Without realizing it, the double agent has become a triple agent. The true value of the information has switched to the other side.

Clearly, spying involves more than simply seeking and then passing on information. And the human cost can be terribly high. A spy can be exposed at any time. Capture could mean a long prison sentence or even execution. To avoid detection, spies must trust no one and must learn to live completely 'undercover.' They give up the normal rewards of career, family life and friendships, except under carefully controlled circumstances. Even after they retire, agents may continue to make compromises. Usually the host country is not their homeland, since agents tend to spy in their native societies, where they can blend in undetected. The country for which they operate is often an alien society, where the customs and language are different. This makes it hard for them to return to a normal civilian life.

Although technology now reveals many secrets, individual agents still play a vital role. Humans can provide data that mechanical systems would not pick up. These include the goals of a nation's leaders in a particular campaign or crisis, the existence of dissident groups or individuals who could be recruited as agents, and shifts in public attitudes that may be important in tense political times. Nevertheless, traditional spies operate in a vastly more complex world than the spies of earlier times. Intelligence information is assembled from many sources, including signal intelligence (obtained from the interception and decrypting of messages, and the analysis of traffic), electronic intelligence (involving remote sensors and traffic surveillance) and image intelligence (including video intelligence and airborne information gathering).

This book covers various aspects of intelligence and information gathering, including the methods countries and their counterintelligence organizations use to guard their secrets. Today's world features a greater number of less powerful potential adversaries, so agents may go back to some of the espionage traditions of the past. The world of twenty-first century espionage is challenging and so far largely unpredictable. Yet, revealing the hidden secrets of tomorrow will certainly continue to engage the brightest and the bravest, as agents match wits with those who doggedly guard those secrets. The future of this ancient profession promises to be just as busy and colorful as the past.


    by Antonio J. Mendez

    Introduction: The Beginnings of Espionage

  1. Spying on the Enemy
    • Case Study 01: The French Painter: Occupied France, 1943
    • Case Study 02: Success on the Warfront: Switzerland and Germany, 1942-1945
    • Case Study 03: Stealing Atomic Secrets: US and UK, 1940s
    • Case Study 04: A Brave Double Agent: Russia, 1961-62

  2. Code Breaking
    • Case Study 05: Dodging U-Boats: North Atlantic, 1940-43
    • Case Study 06: Cracking the Purple Ciphers: US, 1941
    • Case Study 07: "Ultra" Aids Allied Forces in the Pacific: US, 1942-45
    • Case Study 08: "Cipher Wars": Protecting the "Ultra" Secrets: UK, 1940-45

  3. Electronic Secrets -- on the Ground
    • Case Study 09: Tunnel Vision: US, UK, Austria and Germany, 1949-56
    • Case Study 10: Stalking Submarines: US and Russia, 1969
    • Case Study 11: Operation Ryan: Soviet Union, 1980

  4. Fakes and Frauds: Deliberate Deceptions
    • Case Study 12: Operation Mincemeat: England and Spain, 1943
    • Case Study 13: Bogus Radio Broadcasts: England, 1941-45

  5. Airborne Intelligence
    • Case Study 14: Hitler's Revenge Weapons: Europe, 1943-44
    • Case Study 15: Captured! Francis Gary Powers: US and Russia, 1960
    • Case Study 16: The Cuban Missie Crisis: US, 1962

  6. Satellites and Space Intelligence
    • Case Study 17: Nuclear Emergency at Chernobyl: US and Soviet Union, 1985
    • Case Study 18: Cracking the Gulf War Secrets: US, 1990

  7. Espionage in the Twenty-First Century
    • Case Study 19: The Ho Chi Minh Trail, US, 1970s
    • Case Study 20: The Hanssen Spy Case: US, 2001
    • Case Study 21: The Ultimate Secret Agent
    • Case Study 22: The Walker Spy Rihg, USA 1968-85

  8. Spying on the Terrorists
    • Case Study 23: The Lockerbie Disaster: Scotland, 1988
    • Case Study 24: Osama Bin Laden: US, 1990s-2001


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