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The Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf An Annotated Bibliography Compiled by Dan Mulvenna [Copyright November 2010, Updated December 2011]

As the “Dean of Intelligence Bibliophiles” Hayden B Peake recently observed, slightly over 8,000 non-fiction books on intelligence have been published in English during the last century – most since WWII. About 2,650 were published in the UK; approximately 5,100 in the U.S.! Peake, the current Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection, notes that very few books were published during the first 40 years. The pace picked up somewhat after WWII and by the mid to late 1970’s the quantity and “quality” of the books had improved somewhat.

By the 1980’s an increasing number of academics and a smaller number of investigative journalists specializing on intelligence had begun write on various aspects of “intelligence”. They were greatly assisted by the declassification of government intelligence documents and studies and the continuing growth of a corpus of formerly classified information. And an increasing number of retired/former intelligence officers took up the pen, more or less within officially imposed constraints, with memoirs and accounts of their experiences. By the early 1990’s a body of “professional” intelligence literature had emerged along with several academic journals devoted to the subject.

Obviously in this bibliography we can only list a very small number of even the better books among the 8,000 plus published. Here are some of the classics and some of the more recent significant/broadly acclaimed works as well as a few of the more controversial books. At the very least a number of the “better books” should be on every intelligence professional’s bookshelf.


Intelligence "Textbooks" Intelligence practitioners, academics and “students” of the “Great Game” will benefit from the following.

Mark M Lowenthal – “Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy” [Prefer the recently updated 4th Edition]. Washington, D.C. CQ Press, 2009

Lowenthal, who has over thirty years of experience as an intelligence official in both the executive [CIA] and legislative branches of the U. S. government, as well as the private sector, provides a comprehensive overview of the U.S. intelligence community. Intelligence organizations, policy and processes and the relationships of the intelligence community with the executive and legislative branches are clearly and concisely described. The updated 4 th edition covers the creation of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, ethical issues raised by the war on terror, intelligence priorities and transnational issues such as WMD and terrorism.

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Roger Z George & Robert D Kline, Editors – “Intelligence and the National Security Strategist”; Enduring Issues and Challenges”, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Lantham, Maryland 2006

Edited by two faculty members at the National War College, this anthology brings together some of the more important articles on Intelligence. Written by noted intelligence academics and practitioners they approach intelligence as an historical topic and as a government activity. Topics include, “The Origins & Future of U.S. Intelligence”; “Challenges of Technical Collection”; “The Art of Clandestine Collection”; “The Open-Source Revolution”; “Challenges of Intelligence Analysis”; ”Deception, Denial and Disclosure Problems” and “Intelligence and the Military”, among others.

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Lock K. Johnson and James J. Wirtz, Editors – “Intelligence: The Secret World of Spies, An Anthology” Third Edition, Oxford University Press 2011 [Second Edition Title; “Intelligence and National Security: The Secret World of Spies, An Anthology”, Oxford University Press, New York, 2008] More than half of the 39 articles in the Third Edition are new. The Second Edition had 38 articles]

Articles by intelligence specialists and scholars cover topics from how the U. S. gathers and interprets information collected from around the world to comparisons of the American intelligence system with the secret agencies of other nations. Article also address; “Covert Action”; “Counterintelligence”; “Intelligence Collection & Analysis”; “Intelligence Failure”; “Satellite Surveillance”; “Warrantless Wiretaps” [Actually this article is more about electronic intercepts];“Ethics & Intelligence”; “Intelligence Oversight”; “Analysis, War and Decision; Why Intelligence Failures Are Inevitable”; “CIA’s Strategic Intelligence in Iraq”, and more. A current and very useful broad overview of the profession of intelligence, the issues and the problems.

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Jeffery T Richelson – “The U. S. Intelligence Community”. [6 th Edition], Westview Press, 2012, Boulder, Colorado.

This 603 page paperback Sixth Edition provides an updated [2010/early 2011] comprehensive and detailed overview of the U. S. Intelligence Community [USIC], its organizations, operations and management structure. This is the “plumbing and wiring diagram” of the USIC. Despite the occasional error or gap, inevitable in a work that attempts to cover such a large, sprawling and constantly changing enterprise, this is a very useful one volume overview of the 16 agencies and ODNI that make up the USIC and of the craft of intelligence, from a U.S. perspective. Some of the most recent changes to the ODNI and, inter alia, the late 2011 release [declassification] of USIC budget figures did not, understandably, made it to this latest edition. A massive work densely packed with facts, figures, details, code words, operations, etc., it is probably not a good bedtime read, but it is certainly a very useful reference work.

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Paul R Pillar – “Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy; Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform” Columbia University Press, New York, N.Y. 2011

Pillar, was an intelligence analyst for 28 years, mainly at CIA, where he rose to the position of National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia [2000 – 2005] and subsequently at the National Intelligence Council, where he ran the “Middle East shop” throughout the Iraq invasion. From there he moved to the Directorate of National Intelligence. Retired from the USIC he is now a visiting Professor at Georgetown University where he is the Director of Studies in the Security Studies Program. In this book, his third, he argues, as he has in other public writings and speeches, that the hastily written October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate identifying Iraqi W.M.D. programs with “high confidence”, when examined in retrospect, was wrong in every finding. While acknowledging a full measure of blame for the intelligence agency, he asserts that the [Bush] administration politicized the whole effort making it clear that it wanted a finding for Iraqi W.M.D.’s and that at CIA few resisted, knowing careers were on the line. Pillar addresses what he calls the “twin intelligence failures”, Iraq, 9/11 and the subsequent “misguided reform” of the intelligence community. Pillar’s holds little back. In the run-up to the war, he declares, the politicization was “blatant and extensive” involving “misleading rhetorical artifice” and “duplicity” through “tenuous and unverified reports” from “unproven sources”. Pillar, a lucid writer with deep experience and insights into the events in question, meticulously lays out the case for the prosecution. This story has of course been told before in various forms and detail, but Pillar presents perhaps the fullest and best account. His critics while conceding that there were obviously failures in collection, asset validation and analysis, large and small, at various points/places and times by various entities and individuals, assert that his opinions are more those of an aggrieved insider than an objective, dispassionate observer. A must read .

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William R Johnson – “Thwarting Enemies At Home & Abroad; How to Be a Counterintelligence Officer ”. Stone Trail Press, 1987 [New Paperback Reprint]; Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C., 2009

Although somewhat out-of-date and occasionally using terminology well past its “shelf-life” [for example “defector-in-place”] “Thwarting Enemies” remains a classic that is still used as an introductory text in some counterintelligence courses. William Hood, a retired CIA office r and intelligence author [See his “Mole” a great read based on an actual case] in a new introduction in this reprint, summa rizes Johnson’s long ca ree r in milita ry and CIA counte rintelligence. Johnson discusses what counte rintelligence is and how it diffe rs f rom counte respionage. He covers, among other subjects, the suppo rt appa ratus and tools needed to do the job. He examines the role of the polyg raph and how fo reign counte rintelligence is conducted when the CI office r doesn’t have a rrest powe rs. The chapte r on inte rrogation st resses the futility of to rtu re as a CI p ractice as well as techniques that do wo rk. Two chapte rs on su rveillance cove r both managing human su rveillance and technical means; wi re taps, surreptitious photog raphy and the like. Of impo rtance a re the chapte rs on “Double Agents”; Johnson notes “no te rm is mo re misused”. He also observes that Moles [Penetrations of the opposing service] are “you r best weapon”, Defecto rs “you r second best weapon” and emphasizes the impo rtant role of deception [Denial & Deception operations] in the practice of counterintelligence. Full of useful insights that are still relevant today with short case studies to illustrate points .

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Jennifer E Sims & Burton Gerber, Editors – “Vaults, Mirrors & Masks; Rediscovering U. S. Counterintelligence”, Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C. 2009

Edited by an academic intelligence specialist and a former senior CIA operations officer with 39 years experience, the 13 articles in this welcome volume, written by practitioners and scholars, explain the importance of counterintelligence today and explore the causes of and practical solutions for U. S. counterintelligence weaknesses.

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Amy B Zegart – “Eyes On Spies; Congress and the United States Intelligence Community” Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, California, 2011

In this slim [130 pages] book Zegart, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and an affiliated faculty member at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, posits that in the twenty-first century intelligence has eclipsed military firepower as the nation’s most important line of defense. Yet, she argues two key institutional weaknesses, the rules procedures and practices that hinder the development of legislative expertise on intelligence, AND [Senate and House] committee jurisdictions AND policies that have fragmented Congress’s budgetary power over executive branch intelligence agencies, hobble the oversight capabilities of the Congress. Intelligence agencies cannot go it alone she argues and legislative oversight, done well, ensures that the USIC gets those resources it needs and deploys them maximum effect. But electoral incentives on the outside and the zero-sum nature of committee power on the inside provide powerful reasons for Congress not to change.

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British Intelligence; From WWII to the Present

F.H. Hinsley & C.A.G. Simkins – “British Intelligence in the Second World War, Volume 4, Security and Counterintelligence.” London, HMSO, 1990

Volume 4 in the magisterial official 5 Volume “History of British Intelligence in the Second World War” covers Mole Hunting, Counterintelligence and Deception operations. Written by two academics with intelligence backgrounds, it details the role and contribution of counterintelligence in a “hot war”. Since this official history was published, releases of MI5 files/intelligence documents to the British National Archives [formerly the Public Records Office at Kew Gardens] and several new books, add additional information and insights/nuance. While somewhat “dry”, as official histories tend to be, and constrained by the convention of not naming important “players”, this volume nevertheless provides an important overview of MI5, its successes and it shortfalls during WWII. But importantly it MUST be read in conjunction with Masterman’s “Double Cross System” [below] AND in particular with the recently published “The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5” by noted British intelligence historian, Dr. Christopher Andrew, New York; Alfred A Knopt, 2009 [See details/review below] if one is to grasp the whole, updated, picture.

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J.C. Masterman – “The Double-Cross System; In the War of 1939 to 1945”, Yale University Press. 1972 [Various reprints; If possible get the PIMLICO [Paperback] EDITION published with a new introduction by noted British intelligence historian Nigel West in 1995 ]

Written by one of the key players in the counterintelligence battle with the Germans this classic counterintelligence book describes arguably one of the greatest intelligence deception operations in modern war. And, importantly for practitioners, it lays out the theory and practice of “Double Agentry” and “Denial and Deception” operations. Masterman describes in detail how the British turned and controlled almost all the German agents in the U.K., and how MI5 controlled and deceived the Germans with notional agent networks carefully passing a mixture of genuine information and disinformation. Many valuable counterintelligence insights and principles that apply today as they did then. Note in particular the imaginative lengths the British went to in preparing believable “Passage Material” and the care with which they handled and coordinated their extensive stable of double agents.

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The most informative/authoritative book on the British Security Service [MI5].

Christopher Andrew – “The Defence of the Realm”; The Authorized History of MI5” Allen Lane/Penguin Books, London, 2009. [The US Edition is titled; “Defend The Realm”; The Authorized History of MI5”Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2009

Cambridge University Professor Christopher Andrew, an acclaimed intelligence historian who was made a member of the Security Service [MI5] and granted access to service archives for this authorized project, has after 6 years work produced a rich and fascinating account of 100 years of MI5 history. This highly readable massive work [over 1,000 pages with end notes and index] provides information about many [but not all] important UK security and CI events and cases/operations. Obviously the author had to be selective, if only for reasons of length and, no doubt, some details/events had to be left out for legitimate security reasons. [Surprisingly the history takes usup to the present day.] While some significant events are passed over with the barest of mention, there are new details and insights about many others too numerous to mention here. The book also provides a wonderful insight into the organization of MI5, its evolving structure, ethos and personnel over the years as it struggled to deal with its challenges; from WWI & WWII through the Cold War to Irish terrorism and presently the threat from Islamic extremism. An important book that should be read by every CI officer and a great read.

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The most informative/authoritative book on the EARLY history of the British Secret Intelligence Service [MI6].

Keith Jeffery – “MI6; The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909 – 1949” Bloomsbury, London, 2010 [The US Edition is titled “The Secret History of MI6, 1909 – 1949” The Penguin Press, 2010]

Until the 1980s MI6 did not officially exist ! Now Professor Keith Jeffery of Queen’s University, Belfast has detailed the first 40 years of its history based on his unrestricted access to MI6’s archives. This official history provides fascinating insights into the role and operations of MI6, from the early intelligence battles with the Soviets as they seized power in Russia through the two World Wars. There are “gems” and revelations on every page. Jeffery had only a couple of limitations imposed on him in writing this history. Alas, he was not allowed to go beyond the end of 1949 [which among other things ruled out a full dissection of the notorious KGB penetration of MI6, Kim Philby; although Philby’s activities in the GOUZENKO case are briefly mentioned, see below]. And he could not adopt the fairly widely accepted convention of being able to name MI6 officers whose activities have been previously acknowledged or are already in the public domain. There was one additional limitation. As Jeffery acknowledges MI6’s pre-WWII files [archive] had been heavily weeded; because of the sheer volume of reports the practice was to restrict the records to strictly operational material. Regardless, this official history of MI6 is a splendid work of scholarship. Space limitations do not permit mentioning many of its revelations in this brief summary. One important revelation is that Philby exploited his position in MI6 to skillfully downplay Gouzenko’s information [Gouzenko a GRU cipher clerk had defected in Ottawa in 1945] while he quietly alerted his KGB “handlers” enabling them to warn off important agents and protect their networks in the U.K. and Canada. A must read for any intelligence or counterintelligence officer. But read it in conjunction with Michael Smith’s “SIX” which will fill in some gaps and, importantly, names (See below) AND Gordon Corera’s “The Art of Betrayal; Life and Death In the British Secret Service” (See below), which provides additional information on individuals operations not mentioned elsewhere

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Michael Smith – “SIX; A History of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Part 1; Murder and Mayhem, 1909 – 1939” Dialogue, London 2010

Smith, a former military intelligence officer, award winning journalist [Defence Correspondent for the Sunday Times] and author of several previous well-regarded books on intelligence, has almost simultaneously with Jeffery produced a history of MI6. It is largely based on his extensive research into War Office and Foreign Office files in the National Archives [Former Public Records Office] at Kew Gardens. While it sheds light on many operations and individuals, Smith makes some errors. For example he apparently misunderstands the prewar “Z Organization”, which was central to SIS’s preparations for hostilities with the Nazis. And he refers to SIS’s overseas stations as “Bureaux’s”, as though they were newspaper offices, and SIS representatives overseas as “Bureau Chiefs”, rather than Station Commanders or Heads of Station. While there is an element of overlap between the two books, Smith covers areas that Jeffery did not and he was not constrained from identifying individuals, or describing incidents in a more robust manner than Jeffery. An interesting and useful book that should be read in conjunction with Jeffery’s official history. Smith is currently working on Part 2 which will bring the MI6 story much closer to the present. [Due sometime in late 2012]

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Gordon Corera – “The Art of Betrayal; Life and Death In The British Secret Service”, [The Uncensored Story From The Cold War To Iraq], Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London. 2011

  • Corera is the Security Correspondent for BBC News. In a succession of linked stories he traces the history of MI6 from WWII to the war in Iraq and its aftermath. Organizationally he chronicles its evolution “…from a self-selecting, self-perpetuating gentleman’s club for members of the establishment with a naughty streak” into the “professional bureaucratic organization of today…” He notes a cultural shift from the “…heroic adventurism of the past to a more purist approach to intelligence gathering…”; as well as the inherent tension between the “…doers who believe that intelligence is there to be acted upon…and who want to get their hands dirty with covert operations”…and the “thinkers that believe that knowledge is power and should be used behind the scenes in inform official government policy…
  • Corera leaves the impression that for much of the period after WWII SIS consisted of two dominant groups of specialists; the ‘Camel Corps’ who worked the Middle East and the ‘Robber Barons’ who worked against the Soviet Bloc. [But what of the skilled Far East hands who worked Asia and accomplished a great deal? And what about SIS’s contributions to some of the colonial conflicts, including for example Cyprus or even the Falklands?]
  • Along the way Corera touches on familiar operations and individuals; Penkovsky, Blake and the compromise of the tunnel operations; Golitsyn, Philby, the Cambridge spies and the debilitating mole hunts that caused so much friction in the British intelligence community. Lyalin’s defection [which in reality was a joint MI5/SIS counterintelligence task force operation and NOT an exclusively MI5 affair]; Commander Crabb and the ill-fated Portsmouth operation; The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, which “…revived the buccaneering tendency in MI6…” through the Iraq war, Curveball and the WMD controversy. But he also mentions operations that have not been publically documented before, such as BENEFICIARY in Poland and FREED in Czechoslovakia.
  • Corera has researched well and drawn on his years of experience covering security and intelligence. He has also drawn on a group of senior SIS retirees, such as Anthony Cavendish, Stephen de Mowbray, Gerry Warner and the late Daphne Park, whose recollections he sometimes directly quotes, and clearly others whom he does not identify.
  • A useful addition to the literature on British intelligence and a good, breezy read, although it is not without some flaws and minor errors. It should not be viewed as a comprehensive history of MI6’s post-WWII era. For example Corera appears to have avoided, or exercised considerable discretion, regarding such areas/issues as “Dick” Ellis and his admission of treachery; The dismissal of rogue officer Tomlinson and his leaked list of SIS officials; The Peter Middleton Paris station commander fabricated information & invented source saga; The Paul Henderson and Matrix Churchill scandal involving the SIS approved operation to export dual-purpose machine-tools to Iraq: The Hutton Inquiry when for the first time a Chief of SIS gave testimony in open court [albeit via a video link to Vauxhall], among others.
  • Nevertheless it stands well above such other MI6 “histories” as Gordon Thomas’s unreliableSecret Wars; One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 & MI6” St Martin’s Press, New York, 2009 and Stephen Dorrill” s “MI6; Fifty Years of Special Operations” Fourth Estate, London 2000. At the very least it nicely fills in the gap between Keith Jeffery’s official history on MI6, which ends in 1949, and the publication of Michael Smith’s SIX; A History of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Part 2 later in 2012.

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U.S. Intelligence Community

David Wise – “Tiger Trap; America’s Secret Spy War With China” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2011

Wise a veteran reporter who has been writing about intelligence since the early 1960’s, and who is generally regarded as one of the best investigative journalists in the field [see several of his books listed elsewhere in this bibliography] has turned his attention to Chinese espionage, which according to many knowledgeable insiders now constitutes the most persistent, aggressive and expanding espionage threat to the West and in particular to the U.S. For various reasons, lack of research data in the public domain among them, there are not that many “good” books on Chinese espionage. Wise has clearly drawn on extensive interviews with FBI counterintelligence officers who worked the Chinese target and he details a string of about a dozen Chinese espionage cases, several of them inter-related, clustered on the West Coast; reinforcing the old CI adage that few cases stand alone…there are often links between them!” A number of cases were broken when CIA abroad accepted and nurtured defectors and “walk-ins” and secured leads, sometimes fragmentary, that required in some instances years of investigation. Some never made it to court. For example, the FBI suspected that Gwo-Bao Min, an engineer at the Livermore Lab, had passed details of the neutron bomb to China but the Justice Department declined to authorize an arrest. Most embarrassing for the FBI was the penetration of their Chinese [primarily West Coast] operations by their own long-term Double Agent Katrina Leung [Parlor Maid], who was a Chinese “turn-around” Double Agent, and who was concurrently sleeping with her two senior FBI handlers, neither of whom apparently knew the other was sharing her charms. Leung was of course soaking up and eliciting information from both, she also filched classified documents from the briefcase of one handler after love-making sessions in her bedroom, all of which she was passing to her Chinese handler, compromising both FBI HUMINT and technical operations. Wise also details the penetration of CIA by Chinese translator Larry Wu-Tai Chin, perhaps the longest penetration of the U.S. Intelligence Community [32 years]. Chin was exposed to a great deal more classified information than his nominal position with FBIS would suggest. [For another fairly comprehensive view of the Chin case see former Canadian Security Intelligence Service analyst Todd Hoffman’s “The Spy Within; Larry Chin and China’s Penetration of the CIA” Steerforth Press, Hanover, New Hampshire, 2008] The quantity and quality of the sensitive information some of these agents passed over the years is sobering indeed. Wise also presents a useful primer on Chinese foreign intelligence collection operational tradecraft noting how some facets of it differ from the classic agent recruitment and handling model. One shortfall is that Wise barely touches upon the “difficult to get your arms around” Chinese cyber-espionage program, which is perhaps the most aggressive and by all accounts fruitful [for the Chinese] area of their foreign intelligence collection operations. Various Chinese “actors” relentlessly focus on a broad range of target and fields of endeavor in the developed countries, and in particular in the U.S. ; from Government Agencies/Departments and their contractors to private sector firms and institutions, from which they harvest economic, military, political, technical and industrial, processes and dual-use technologies, etc.. In summary Tiger Trap is a very useful, if incomplete, overview and examination of the scope and scale of the espionage threat from China. [See also the still useful “The Cox Report; The Unanimous and Bipartisan Report of the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China” Edited by Kenneth deGraffenreid, Regnery Publishing Inc., Washington, D.C., 1999 For an overview of cyber-enabled espionage see in particular “Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage, 2009-2011”, Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, October 2011]

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Tim Weiner – “Legacy of Ashes; the History of the CIA”, Doubleday, New York, 2007

Weiner is a Pulitzer Prize winner investigative reporter for the New York Times. When his 702 page book appeared it was greeted with nearly-unanimous praise [mostly by fellow journalists who share his anti-CIA bias]. They described the book as…“...About as magisterial an account of ‘the agency’s’ 60 years as anyone has yet produced…” and “… (A) deeply researched new chronicle of CIA…” There were few critical comments, although David Wise, the “Dean” of intelligence journalists, noted that “…Weiner’s scorn for the old boys who ran the place is so unrelenting and pervasive that it tends to detract from his overall argument…” Indeed! As subsequently noted by intelligence historian Jeffrey T Richelson in his review [entitled “Sins of Omission and Commission”] “…Weiner’s book cannot be even remotely characterized as a history of CIA…” As other intelligence specialists have noted the book is fixated on the CIA’s Covert Action “failures” [Weiner finds almost all Covert Actions to have been “failures”] and gives only passing attention to the CIA’s other significant intelligence activities [HUMINT, Technical Collection, Analysis, etc] and its successes. A knowledgeable “inside” reviewer, CIA Historian Nicholas Dujmovic, points to [and lists] numerous factual errors and invented dialogue. Two noted intelligence historians, Lock K. Johnson and Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, in their reviews in Intelligence and National Security, Vol 23, No6 December 2008, acknowledge that Weiner has “commendably” chronicled many of CIA’s covert action failures and has raised some other important points. But, they note, his book is “…deeply marred by a lack of balance…” and he ignores or is [apparently] unaware of the extensive scholarly and professional literature on the issues. Weiner has an agenda [his thesis is that CIA has been a disastrous failure] and this is reflected in his selective use of source material and combative prose. If you are looking for an objective, balanced history of the CIA this is not it!

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Robert Wallace and H Keith Melton – “Spycraft; The Secret History of the CIA’s SpyTechs From Communism to al-Qaeda”, Dutton, New York, 2008

With Spycraft Wallace, a former Director of the CIA’s Office of Technical Services [OTS] and Melton, the internationally recognized author, intelligence historian, expert on clandestine devices and owner of the world’s largest collection of such artifacts, have produced the best book on CIA tradecraft and clandestine technical devices yet published, period! There’s more! It also has fascinating details about many of the CIA’s most important Cold War clandestine operations. Essentially Spycraft is the story of the evolution of OTS and the state-of-the-art technical devices and support it provides to the CIA’s intelligence collection operations. The ingenuity, skills and audacity of the OTS “techies” and the sophistication and capabilities of the devices and tradecraft they developed astounds, as it did the KGB when they discovered some of CIA’s operations. A must read! [See also Keith Melton’s “Ultimate Spy: Inside the Secret World of Espionage”; Expanded & Updated Edition, DK Publishing New York, N.Y. 2009. This magnificent high quality 224 page large format “coffee table” volume contains a remarkable collection of unique photographs of espionage paraphernalia along with interesting and informative details regarding their development and use by various intelligence services.]

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Milt Beardon and James Risen – “The Main Enemy; The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB”, Random House, New York, 2003

Bearden is a former 30 year senior officer of CIA’s clandestine service and Risen is a New York Times investigative reporter. The Main Enemy covers CIA’s covert operations in Afghanistan to defeat the Soviets. But the heart of this fascinating book is the intelligence battle between the CIA and the KGB. In particular from the mid-1980’s on when KGB penetrations of CIA [Aldrich Ames] and the FBI [Robert Hanssen] wrought terrible damage on a carefully built constellation of CIA penetrations [Moles] inside the KGB and GRU [Military intelligence] and important Soviet Government institutions and Ministries. With inside information/details from both sides, this is a revealing account of some of the great Cold War cases run by CIA for many years under the eyes of the KGB. And of the tragedies that followed the betrayal of these assets by Ames and Hanssen. [See also the best books on both Ames and Hanssen listed below]

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The convention seems to be that there must be at least four or more books published about a spy case for it to be regarded as a major case. Here, in my opinion, are the best books on some of the notable U. S. spy cases;

Pete Earley – “Family of Spies: Inside the John Walker Spy Ring”. Bantam Books, New York, 1988

Written by a well-regarded investigative reporter and possibly the best of the 7 books written about the 18 year espionage career of the notorious John Walker Jr. and his “family of spies” [son, brother and best friend] inside the U.S. Navy. Walker’s espionage [he provided the KGB with “keys” to most of the U.S. Navy codes for which he received over one million dollars] had war winning potential – for the Soviets – who [at the time] called it “The greatest case in KGB history” [KGB officer Vitaly Yurchenko]

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Robert W. Hunter – “Spy Hunter: Inside the FBI Investigation of the Walker Espionage Case”. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. 1999

Case agent and lead investigator Hunter provides a straightforward and interesting firsthand account of the FBI investigation of long-time U. S. Navy spy John Walker Jr. [See also John Barron’s “Breaking the Ring: The Rise and Fall of the Walker Family Spy Network” 1987. You can safely IGNORE the recently published “My Life as a Spy” Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York. 2008, written by Walker himself from the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri where he is serving a life sentence.] Walker once famously quipped “K Mart has better security than the U.S. Navy”.

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David Wise – “Nightmover: How Aldrich Ames Sold the CIA to the KGB for $4.6 Million ”. New York, Harper Collins, 1995

Wise a journalist and long-time writer on intelligence and espionage describes the treachery of perhaps the most damaging penetration of CIA; his betrayal resulted in the execution of ten CIA assets in Russia. This is the account of the mole hunt that leads to his arrest. Ames an intelligent, clever but lazy and inept alcoholic, volunteered to the KGB and for approximately $2.7 million betrayed every CIA operations against the Russians that he could get access to. Nightmovertells the story, essentially from the perspective of the FBI investigation.

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Pete Earley – “Confessions of a Spy; the Real Story of Aldrich Ames”. G.P. Putnam’s and Sons, New York. 1997

Investigative reporter Earley, because of an administrative blunder at the Alexandria Detention Center south of Washington, D.C., had 51 hours of one on one evening interviews [tape recorded]with Ames over a period of several weeks with no CIA/FBI personnel monitoring the conversations! This was before Ames trial. When the U.S. Government learned of the interviews they were stopped and Ames was transferred to another facility. Earley subsequently travelled to Moscow to speak with Ames KGB handlers as well as with the families of those CIA assets he had betrayed. He also had access to some of the CIA officers on the CIA mole-hunting team that had, eventually, focused on Ames. The result is a rich more complex portrait of Ames and account of the case. Further reading; Tim Weiner, David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis – “Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, an American Spy”, Random House, New York. 1995

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David Wise - “Spy; The Inside Story of How the FBI’s Robert Hanssen Betrayed America ”, Random House, 2002 [Do not confuse with David A. Vise “The Bureau & the Mole” also on Hanssen but which can safely be passed over.]

Intelligence and espionage writer Wise recounts, in detail, the 10.5 year espionage career of GRU/KGB/SVR spy Robert Hanssen, the most damaging penetration in the FBI’s history. An admirer of British spy Kim Philby, whom he certainly ranks with in terms of the damage he did to his country’s intelligence assets, Hanssen betrayed to the Russians somewhere around 50 human sources as well as a broad range of highly classified national collection programs, including the U. S. Continuity of Government Program. Wise describes the paradoxes of this devoted husband, parent and devoutly religious man, who at the same time consorted with a stripper and engaged in bizarre sexual behavior. Intelligent but socially awkward, somber and somewhat aloof, Hanssen was described by colleagues as nerdy and a geek. His passion was computers and his skills in that regard far exceeded those of his colleagues. Secretly he apparently had distain for the U. S. Government and in particular for the FBI, where he simply did not “fit” the Bureau culture. A failed street agent and poor supervisor, his career stalled and he gravitated, like Ames, into analytical and administrative work where, paradoxically, he obtained broad access to highly sensitive Bureau and community-wide intelligence programs. Although lazy and careless in his espionage tradecraft he escaped detection for years. Wise tells the story of the hunt to identify the mole and of a three-year long detour when the Bureau stubbornly focused on “The Wrong Man”. In the end an innovative and well-executed operation produced the information and evidence to identify Hanssen. Shop for this title at Amazon.com

[See also Victor Cherkashin with Gregory Feifer – “Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer: The True Story of the Man who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames”, Basic Books, New York. 2005. Col Cherkashin was stationed in the KGB Rezidentura [Station] in Washington, D.C. when both Ames and Hanssen volunteered. Cherkashin was involved in the initial handling of both. While subsequently awarded the Soviet Union’s highest honor [Order of Lenin] an expected promotion was not given. He became and remains bitter at the First Chief Directorate leadership. This and other interesting background is detailed in his book.] Shop for this title at Amazon.com

 


David Wise – “Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors that Shattered the CIA ”, Random House, New York. 1992

Perhaps the best of the 5 books on an earlier molehunt [Codenamed HONETAL] inside CIA for a Soviet penetration [“Sasha”] which was led by legendary CIA Chief of CI Jim Angleton. Valuable lessons; mostly about the excesses of misdirected CI investigations and their impact on innocent CIA personnel.

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Jerrold L. Schecter and Peter S Deriabin – “The Spy Who Saved The World; How a Soviet Colonel Changed the Course of the Cold War”, Charles Scribner and Sons, New York. 1992

Written by a journalist who specializes in espionage and an earlier KGB defector to CIA, this authentic account is based on declassified official CIA files and interviews with some of the key players on both the American and British side. This is the best book on the Penkovsky case. A GRU [military intelligence] officer, Penkovsky volunteered in Moscow and after experiencing considerable difficulty being “accepted” was subsequently run in place as a penetration of the GRU by a joint CIA-MI6 [British Secret Intelligence Service] team. He provided a large amount of military intelligence including critical information about the Soviet Union’s missile capabilities during his relatively short espionage career, which proved of immense value during the Cuban missile crisis.

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Robert J. Lamphere and Tom Shachtman – “The FBI – KGB War; A Special Agent’s Story ”, Random House, 1986

Lamphere an FBI Special Agent worked with the Army Security Agency [forerunner of NSA] on the VENONA project, a highly classified crypto break into Soviet [KGB, GRU & Naval GRU] encrypted cables between a number of Soviet Embassies in the West [New York, Washington, London among others] and Moscow Center. Written and published before the declassification of the approximately 3,000 VENONA intelligence messages that had been “broken”, this early work provides insights into the FBI’s investigations of U. S. citizens, most of them Communists or communist sympathizers working for the Soviets in the 1930’a and 1940’s. [Importantly see also “The Haunted Wood” below and the U.S. Gov published Robert Louis Benson and Michael Warner, Editors – “VENONA: Soviet Espionage and the American Response”, 1939 – 1957. US Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1996, AND ESPECIALLY “Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America”, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009, for the most complete and accurate account, see below.]

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Allen Weinstein & Alexander Vassiliev – “The Haunted Wood; Soviet Espionage in America – The Stalin Era”. Random House, New York, 1999

Written by noted historian Weinstein and former KGB officer Vassiliev who had access to relevant KGB files in Moscow on the KGB operations in the U.S. during the 1930’s and 1940’s, and who subsequently defected to the West [London] with his uncensored research notes[they were actually spirited out of Russia later]. This book provides further insights into Soviet intelligence operations in the United States adding some names and details not broken out in the Venona cables.

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John Earl Hanes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev – “Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America”, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009

Noted intelligence historians Professors Haynes & Klehr and former KGB officer Alexander Vassiliev have produced what is the definitive book on KGB operations in the U. S. during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Based on extensive notes made from KGB files in Moscow by Vassiliev, many of which were not used or available to Weinstein when he wrote “The Haunted Wood” [See above], along with prodigious research by Haynes & Klehr, this work provides the most complete picture of Soviet espionage in America for that period. The authors document over 500 Americans spying for the Soviets and resolve many of the long-seething controversies in certain academic and political circles in the U.S.; the guilt or innocence of the Rosenbergs [Julius was a prolific KGB agent who ran a highly productive industrial espionage ring and was involved in the recruitment of one of the “atomic spies”; Ethel, his spouse, was knowledgeable and supportive but not active due to health issues]; Alger Hiss [the evidence indicates he was a GRU (Soviet military intelligence) agent despite denying it to his deathbed]; Robert Oppenheimer [while the KGB was anxious to recruit him, he had earlier been a secret Communist Party member, the authors conclude, based on the evidence available to them, that he was NEVER a KGB agent. But since Vassiliev did not have access to ANY GRU files or classified information I should personally like to withhold a definitive judgment on whether or not he was a Soviet intelligence asset at least for now]. “Spies identifies a number American KGB spies who had never been under suspicion of being agents, including a former Supreme Court judge AND the long sought and last unaccounted-for American nuclear spy [PERSUS or PERS], whose identity the KGB tried to protect through deception operations even relatively recently. “Spies” is without question the best account of the KGB’s ideological American spies of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

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Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin – “The Mitrokhin Archive; The Sword and the Shield ” [Vol 1] Allen Lane, Penguin, London, 1999 and “The Mitrokhin Archive II; The KGB & The World”, Penguin, London, 2005 [Published as “The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World” in the U.S. [Basic Books, New York. 2005]

These two important volumes are the result of the partnership of Cambridge University Professor Andrew, known as the official historian of MI5 [See “The Defence of the Realm” above] and former KGB officer Col Mitrokhin, who defected to Britain in 1992 bringing with him the largest cache of transcripts and notes from the secret KGB archives ever received from a single source. Together they represent a significant exposure of the KGB’s world-wide operations. They were presumably published with at least the tacit approval of the British services [MI6 & MI5]. For over a decade Mitrokhin, the KGB First Chief Directorate [Foreign Intelligence] archivist, copied details from many of the FCD’s most interesting operational files. After the breakup of the Soviet Union he volunteered to the British and subsequently his “archive” was secretly smuggled out of Russia into the hands of the British services. Some information brought out by Mitrokhin was withheld from publication at the request of various governments, because of on-going investigations [?] and the possibility of prosecutions. Some critics complained that (at least some) information was withheld to avoid embarrassment for a number of agencies and governments. Nevertheless these volumes contain the largest amount of reliable information on KGB foreign intelligence operations over the longest time-span and widest geographic area ever published. Andrew has brilliantly meshed and supplemented Mitrokhin information with illuminating supplementary information and insights. An indispensible resource for CI professionals and a very good read.

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Christopher Andrew & Oleg Gordievisky – “KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev ”, Sceptre Books, Paperback Edition, 1991 [Please note a white cover paperback edition, published in the U.K. contains corrections to the original 1990 hardback shown here .]

An earlier but still important account of the KGB’s foreign intelligence operations by noted British intelligence historian Christopher Andrew, paired this time with former KGB Col and Resident-designate of the KGB Rezidentura in London Oleg Gordievsky. Unknown to the KGB Gordievsky had been an MI6 penetration of the KGB for eleven years [1974 – 1985] before he was betrayed. He was secretly exfiltrated by MI6 to the U.K. from Moscow in a daring operation in 1985. [See Oleg Gordievsky – “Next Stop Execution; the Autobiography of Oleg Gordievsky”, Macmillan, London, 1995] While “overtaken” to some extent by the two volume Mitrokhin Archive and relying to some extent on secondary sources, this work nevertheless contains useful additional information and insights.

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Benjamin Weiser – “A Secret Life; The Polish Officer, His Covert Mission and the Price He Paid to Save His Country”, Public Affairs, New York. 2004.

A Secret Life is the fascinating story of one of the most important Cold War penetrations to volunteer to the CIA. It is based, among other things, on more than 750 pages declassified from the CIA files on the case. For almost a decade CIA ran this productive and important agent in a “denied area” before successfully exfiltrating he and his family when the Polish Security Service began to focus on him as the source of the treasure-trove of highly classified Warsaw Pact secrets leaking to the West. Polish Army Col. Ryszard Kuklinski rose to an important position in a small group of General Staff officers and other senior officials tasked with writing Poland’s martial law plan during the 1980-1981 crisis. He passed to CIA over 40,200 pages of highly classified information. His information on Warsaw Pact military secrets was critical to the West. This riveting account of the Kuklinski case provides remarkable insights into how his CIA case officers skillfully and carefully ran him. One of the better expositions of “denied area” tradecraft and agent handling in current intelligence literature. [See also Benjamin B Fischer - “The Vilification and Vindication of Colonel Kuklinski” in the CIA Journal “Studies In Intelligence”, Summer 2000, Number 9, Unclassified Edition]

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Peter Wright – “Spycatcher – The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer” Viking Penguin, London, 1987

After retirement Wright, a trained scientist and former MI5 Assistant Director who had been deeply involved in the controversial molehunt for Soviet agents inside the British security and intelligence services and British establishment, moved to Australia. Falling on hard times, he failed as a thoroughbred horse rancher, and having been denied a promised full pension by MI5, Wright with the assistance of a ghost writer wrote a tell-all book to avoid bankruptcy. The U.K. Government immediately sought to ban publication of the book, resulting in a famous court case in Australia, which the British Government lost, thereby ensuring that the book would become a best-seller. His ghost writer made some silly errors including incorrect addresses/locations and misspelled names in recounting Wrights recollections. And Wright was certainly wrong in his belief that MI5 Director Hollis had been a Soviet spy and that the GRU “volunteer” to SIS, Oleg Penkovsky, had been a KGB double agent. He got other things wrong as well! And critics seized on these errors to disparage the entire book. Nevertheless Wright’s unabashed revelations of counterintelligence operations and how British and American services worked with and against each other during the height of the Cold War, make for entertaining and colorful reading. [Readers are advised to consult Andrew’s “The Defence of the Realm”, see above, on some of Wright’s claims.] Most of the famous and infamous intelligence personalities of the day and a number of notable operations can be found in the pages, along with many lessons and insights for the discerning reader.

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John Barron – “KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Agents”. The Reader’s Digest Association, 1974

When this early book on the KGB appeared it shocked the KGB because of its accurate insights into the KGB organization, operations and in particular, its large comprehensive list of KGB officers serving around the world. The KGB believed that publication of the book was an operation by the U. S./Western intelligence community to expose and hinder their operations. [They of course subsequently retaliated with publication of an expose of CIA officers world-wide.] While dated this is still a useful counterintelligence reference to earlier KGB operations and personalities and the Cold War intelligence battle.

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Stuart A Herrington – “Traitors Among Us; Inside the Spy Catcher’s World” Presidio Press, Novato, CA. 1999

U. S. Army military intelligence officer Col Herrington led the Army FCA [Foreign Counterintelligence Activity] organization as they investigated, along with the CIA and FBI, the infamous and complex Clyde Conrad spy ring being run by the Hungarian Military Intelligence Service in Germany. Conrad and his ring betrayed a great deal of classified military information, including the U.S. Army’s war plans for Europe [which were no doubt turned over to the Russians]. This had war-winning potential – for the Soviets! The book details the difficulties the investigative team encountered in running this complex CI operation in Europe.

 

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