SPIES ARE IN THE HEADLINES more today than at any time since the McCarthy era. From Silicon Valley housewives peddling high-tech secrets, through John Walker, Jr., who set up a cozy family-operated business dealing submarine codes to the Russians, espionage has become the middle-class cottage industry of the 1980s. Perhaps coincidentally, espionage novelists have been on a roll of their own lately. Nothing has been heard for a few years from John le Carre, the genre's grand master, but several of the field's other big guns have new books, and there have been some promising newcomers. All in all, it's a great time for spy-watching--either real or make-believe. The list is of recently published books below should be required reading for anyone who hears the word mole and doesn't think of furry animals.
Andrew, Christopher. Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community. Viking/Elizabeth Sifton, 1986, $25. (0-670-80941-1)
American spies seem like bumpkins compared to the British, who have always had a flair for the cloak-and-dagger (perhaps that's why they make such good traitors). This massive tome shows how it all began--the history of British espionage from 1803 to the present.
Corson, William R. and Crowley, Robert T. The New KGB: Engine of Soviet Power. Morrow, 1985, $18.95. (0-688-04183-3, 85-2911)
What's new with the KGB? Not a question to ask in a room of vodka drinkers, but anyone interested in the espionage world can't help wondering what life is like in the halls of the Komitet Gosudarstvennofi Bezopasnosti (try that after three vodkas). Corson and Crowley have all the answers in this fascinating glimpse at how Soviet intelligence has evolved since 1917.
Dobson, Christopher and Payne, Ronald. Who's Who in Espionage. St Martin's 1985, $15.95. (0-312-87432-4, 85-1790)
The bible of spy-watching, this alphabetically arranged handbook covers famous spies (Kim Philby, Allen Dulles, et al.), technological advances (poison-tipped umbrellas, etc.), and, of course, spy jargon (a swallow is a woman used to lure a man into a honey trap).
Follett, Ken. Lie Down with Lions. Morrow, 1986, $18. …