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A Century of Spies


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About the Author

Jeffrey Richelson is Senior Fellow at the National Security Archive.


Intelligence, according to Richelson, played a crucial role in defeating Hitler, preventing the Cold War from turning into a nuclear war and keeping the superpower arms race from getting completely out of hand. His comprehensive survey explores the impact of spies and their special technology on world events in this century, showing how intelligence gathering and espionage have become a multibillion-dollar enterprise. The book covers events and developments from WWI to the age of spy satellites. With the end of the Cold War, as he shows, intelligence organizations have begun to focus more on international economic rivalries‘an emphasis that includes economic espionage. Richelson predicts that intelligence technologies in the next century will become even more sophisticated but humans will still be needed for obtaining documents, technical samples and on-site reporting. This decade-by-decade review of key events and breakthroughs in intelligence and espionage is masterly. Richelson is a Senior Fellow at the National Security Archive. (Aug.)

fascinating history of secret warfare Focus recommended to those seeking to understand contemporary intelligence and the controversies surrounding it. New Scientist

In this ambitious book, Richelson (America's Secret Eyes in Space, HarperBusiness, 1990) surveys the growth, development, and transformation of intelligence (a.k.a., "spying") in the 20th century. The work combines elements of popular spy books-great stories, colorful characters, and sad incidents-with more straightforward analysis. For the ardent spy buff, the volume is an interesting array of tales with a broader developmental focus; indeed, the cross-national perspective is a strength here. The book falls short, however, in providing the in-depth analysis one would hope for. For example, a final chapter on "a new world of disorder" falls short of providing a good vision of the current situation, despite a proper emphasis on economic intelligence, proliferation, and technical intelligence means. Ultimately, too many questions are left unanswered here. While Richelson believes that spying has had its beneficial aspects (e.g., breaking Hitler), its impact on domestic life, no matter what country, slips by him. An optional purchase.-H. Steck, SUNY at Cortland

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