The New Spymasters: Inside the Modern World of Espionage from the Cold War to Global Terror

By Hodge, George | Military Review, January-February 2016 | Go to article overview

The New Spymasters: Inside the Modern World of Espionage from the Cold War to Global Terror


Hodge, George, Military Review


THE NEW SPYMASTERS: Inside the Modern World of Espionage from the Cold War to Global Terror Stephen Grey, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2015, 368 pages

The New Spymasters is a look inside the dark world of spying, its shades-of-gray ethical challenges, and its never-ending complexities. Author Stephen Grey poses three questions up front. First, how has spying changed in the twenty-first century? Second, when can spying be effective? Third, what kind of spying is needed to help deal with the specific threats of today and of the future?

To answer each question, Grey provides a lengthy background discussion of personalities and events, which gives the reader a context to support his examples and conclusions. His examples are drawn from first-hand interviews as well as verified public knowledge. The majority of his research is on Western spy agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), known more commonly as MI6.

Grey's book chronicles the early days of British spying during the Russian Revolution. Then it progresses through the formal development of various national spy services--such as the Cheka (a nickname of the original Soviet secret security organization) and the NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, a Soviet agency that came after the Cheka); the SIS; and the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, a U.S. intelligence agency created during World War II) and its descendant, the CIA. The author describes the roles each of them played for their respective countries up to present day. Here is where he begins to provide examples of how spy activities easily proceed into gray areas. Although the agencies make their living on deceit and half-truths, some type of transparency is necessary to keep them "in check" with their governments. The reader will immediately see the dilemmas caused by balancing the need for secrecy and open accountability. Grey continues to show the evolution in the spy business up through the end of the Cold War. …

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