A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century

A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century

A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century

A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century


Here is the ultimate inside history of twentieth-century intelligence gathering and covert activity. Unrivalled in its scope and as readable as any spy novel, A Century of Spies travels from tsarist Russia and the earliest days of the British Secret Service to the crises and uncertainties of today's post-Cold War world, offering an unsurpassed overview of the role of modern intelligence in every part of the globe. From spies and secret agents to the latest high-tech wizardry in signals and imagery surveillance, it provides fascinating, in-depth coverage of important operations of United States, British, Russian, Israeli, Chinese, German, and French intelligence services, and much more. All the key elements of modern intelligence activity are here. An expert whose books have received high marks from the intelligence and military communities, Jeffrey Richelson covers the crucial role of spy technology from the days of Marconi and the Wright Brothers to today's dazzling array of Space Age satellites, aircraft, and ground stations. He provides vivid portraits of spymasters, spies, and defectors--including Sidney Reilly, Herbert Yardley, Kim Philby, James Angleton, Markus Wolf, Reinhard Gehlen, Vitaly Yurchenko, Jonathan Pollard, and many others. Richelson paints a colorful portrait of World War I's spies and sabateurs, and illuminates the secret maneuvering that helped determine the outcome of the war on land, at sea, and on the diplomatic front; he investigates the enormous importance of intelligence operations in both the European and Pacific theaters in World War II, from the work of Allied and Nazi agents to the "black magic" of U.S. and British code breakers; and he gives us a complete overview of intelligence during the length of the Cold War, from superpower espionage and spy scandals to covert action and secret wars. A final chapter probes the still-evolving role of intelligence work in the new world of disorder and ethnic conflict, from the high-tech wonders of the Gulf War to the surprising involvement of the French government in industrial espionage. Comprehensive, authoritative, and addictively readable, A Century of Spies is filled with new information on a variety of subjects--from the activities of the American Black Chamber in the 1920s to intelligence collection during the Cuban missile crisis to Soviet intelligence and covert action operations. It is an essential volume for anyone interested in military history, espionage and adventure, and world affairs.


The twentieth century has seen revolutionary change occur in a variety of fields -- none more so than intelligence and espionage. At the beginning of the century most intelligence operations of importance emanated from Europe and involved, at most, a small number of agents spread over the continent, spying on military and foreign policy developments. No more than several thousand people were involved in all aspects of intelligence operations.

Today, major intelligence establishments are supported by governments from Washington to Moscow and London to Canberra. In addition, intelligence is no longer a world of spies, counterspies, political operatives, defectors, and dark alleys. It is that and much more -- a world of thirty-thousand-pound spy satellites, aircraft packed with cameras and electronic equipment, bristling antenna farms, ultra-high-speed computers, and analysts with advanced degrees in mathematics, physics, foreign languages, economics, engineering, and political science. It is a world with over a million inhabitants that costs more than a hundred billion dollars a year. And despite the end of the Cold War, it is a world that will continue to flourish for a long time to come.

The transformation of the world in the twentieth century -- the growth of complex societies, the all-encompassing nature of war, the development of advanced technology, and the emergence of new nations -- is reflected in the transformation of the world of intelligence and espionage. The need for information about all aspects of foreign societies, including sophisticated weapons systems, helped transform intelligence into today's multibillion-dollar enterprise, which requires both high-tech collection systems and individuals with advanced training in the social and natural sciences as well as arcane fields such as photographic interpretation.

At the same time, intelligence successes and failures have had a signifi-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.