Step into the real world of the spy with this detailed and unforgettable tour of the millennia-long history and enduring legacy of espionage and covert operations. While most of us associate this top-secret subject with popular fiction and film, its true story is more fascinating, surprising, and important than you could possibly imagine.
These 24 thrilling lectures survey how world powers have attempted to work in the shadows to gain secret information or subvert enemies behind the scenes. Filled with stories and insights that will change the way you think about world history's most defining events, this course lets you peer inside a subject whose truths most people are unaware of.
Professor Liulevicius introduces you to the inner workings of covert organizations, including the Oprichnina, a feared secret service established by tsar Ivan the Terrible in the 1500s in an effort to cleanse Russia of treasonous activities; the CIA, established in 1947 by President Truman to replace the Office of Secret Services to be in charge of all intelligence collection – and which had an embarrassing early history; and Mossad, Israel's version of the CIA, which won a series of key intelligence victories during the cold war and over terror attacks and hostage crises in the second half of the 20th century.
You'll also meet famous – and infamous – spies, including Sir Francis Walsingham, Mata Hari, and Kim Philby. In this stirring series of lectures, you'll study the psychological motives behind spies, the ethics of cyber warfare and corporate espionage, the question of whether we now live in a surveillance society, and more.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses
the second half of the book, dealing with the twentieth century is a clear and interesting overview
Yes, this one book is likely not much of an indicator of what the others are like given they feature other speakers on other topics
listenable and engaging but not nuanced
the first half of the book was too superficial and remote. Insufficient context was established to give the brief key stories much meaningfulness and there was little to no reflection; no sooner have you started to care about the story he's telling than he's moved on from it. granted this is an overview but it's just too skirting in its approach. if time is such a restriction the lecturer really needs to let certain stories go in order to more fully flesh out others.
the second half doesn't employ a substantially different approach but there's a continuity and proximity of context that makes it substantially more satisfying.
You Won't Believe
Very good overview of the history of spying and covert operations from ancient times to the modern era. Not nearly long or detailed enough to do the subject justice, however. The course teacher is superb--really, really talented at presenting the topic--not a minute of boredom here.
History of covert operations in the 19th Century was fascinating.
When the spies caught caught and killed--it happens more often than we imagine.
There is a need for more objective reviews of this topic in the literature and fewer "gee-whiz" types books (a la Clancy). This is towards the Le Carre style and the lecturer has great understanding of his topic.
This book is much better that Michael Warner's recent "The rise and fall of intelligence." He starts each lecture with a clear premise--"now we are going to discuss signals intelligence in WWI" and gives clear, complete examples.
The text is not technical, but he still manages to convey how technology and politics interact with the espionage community.
It is a concise and entertaining survey of espionage.
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
The joke is that prostitution is the world's oldest profession, and there's a debate about the second. Is it politics? Ronald Reagan joked at a business conference in Los Angeles on March 2, 1977, that "Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." Is it motherhood, as Erma Bombeck claimed in "Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession" (1983)? Or is it spying - as both Phillip Knightley says in his 1986 book, "The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the 20th Century" - and Professor Vejas
Gabriel Liulevicius in this Great Courses lecture series "Espionage and Covert Operations: A Global History" (2011)?
Whenever spying started, it is the world's most versatile profession. Liulevicius points out that a spy can be anyone. A 13th Century merchant on the Silk Road might be gathering intelligence for Genghis Khan's Mongol Hoards. A highly respected but deeply in debt American Revolutionary War general, feeling slighted by being passed over for promotion, might sell secrets to the British - as Benedict Arnold and his wife did. An arrogant Southern Confederate Army Command might believe the propaganda that Blacks were subhuman and could not pass on military plans to the forces fighting to free them, and speak improvidently in front of a 15 year old black girl serving dinner. A politically idealistic and unrealistic group of young men might agree to spy for the communists, and rise high in a democratic government before being discovered, but after betraying hundreds (Kim Philby and the Cambridge 5). Spies can be soldiers, mothers (Valerie Plame), prostitutes (Mata Hari, arguably), friends and enemies.
Liulevicius does discuss the reasons people become spies - including idealism (Jonathan Pollard, a Naval Intelligence Analyst who spied for Israel); money (Aldrich Ames, CIA, for the USSR/Russia), the desire to "get one over" on people who underestimated him (Robert Hanssen, FBI, also for USSR/Russia).
Liulevicius lectures are fascinating, and emphasize the development of the tools of the profession - the tradecraft - over the last two millennia. He also discusses how tradecraft failures lead to the discovery of spies. Liulevicius doesn't throughly discuss the reasons for the failures, but the situations he mentions appear arise from a combination of hubris, laziness and arrogance of spies themselves and handlers, rather than a lack of technical resources or expertise. That psychology alone warrants another lecture.
Liulevicius does not discuss the morals and ethics of spying, other than to mention the oft repeated maxim that "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail" which is credited to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, who disbanded the OSS (Office of Special Services) at the end of World War II. The OSS was reconstituted in fairly short order as the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).
Liulevicius mentions Pvt Chelsea Manning (formerly PFC Bradley Manning), an intelligence analyst who stole hundreds of classified communications and gave them to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Former NSA (National Security Agency) contractor Edwin Snowden's intelligence leaks didn't become public until 2013, two years after this Great Course was published. Liulevicius didn't argue that Manning was a spy, and I'm sure he'd agree Snowden wasn't one either. Both men used brute force spy techniques (they were present with the intelligence and copied it), but neither were employed by any outside entity when they acquired the intelligence. Both sold the information to the "highest bidder", although the goal wasn't money for either man. It was an expression of moral belief, a desire fame, or both.
In light of these recent revelations, it would be great to hear Liulevicius talk about whether the US government's intrusion into the privacy of its citizens - its spying - is a reflection of paranoid politicians, an insular society, or just business as usual - made unusually transparent. Perhaps an updated course, Audible/Great Courses?
This is a good course, but like all Audible versions of Great Courses, there's no accompanying course material. I'm fine with that - I wouldn't have read a book along with it anyway. A true Table of Contents would have been nice, and that's available at the Great Courses website.
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Although I enjoyed this course and I'm a big fan of the author, I was hoping for some more detail rather than a general overview to cover a large number of examples over the period.
I enjoy spy, military, psychological, technical and fiction based in reality and science. I really value intimate, thorough writing.
I would. It covers so much that you are bound to find something that interests you.
No. This is the only topic i saw that interested me personally and the way it was covered left a lot to be desired. But there's so much touched on here so its probably impossible to feel satisfied with whats given without it being a million hours long.
Excellent. Enthusiastic without being forced or ridiculous. Engaged without sounding bias.
Research. Lots and lots of research.
The amount of detail and information is astounding yet disappointing. The scope is so wide that it is impossible to cover any instance with any intimacy. It got better the more modern it got (obviously because we have better record) but i still felt like i was was being hurried through a museum with just enough time to read the placards once before being pushed along. I do appreciate how much is mentioned.
NOTE: Toward the end he does some what spoil Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy , The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Casino Royale, Hunt For Red October (i think) and a few others which escape me now. You get plenty of warning for most of them. But they are there.
A tad action, mix in some history, throw in some battle & a sprinkle of mystery. A dash narration with added heart & a novel can become art
The length, detail and subject matter.
Very enthusiastic and great pronunciation.
An excellent course and highly recommended.
Among the most interesting audiobook I've listened to so far.
The true story & details about the Trojan Horse.
His narration gives life to the story.
I found the narration to be well performed and gave emphasis where needed.
I've listened to 3 of Dr Liulevicius's courses now and they were all excellent. I recommend his utopia and terror course very highly.
I learn more when I listen to audiobooks and I can chew through a lot more books this way! Audiobooks are also a lot easier with a TBI
I really enjoyed listening to this course. I approached this course because it sounded fun and interesting but also because this is not a topic I know too much about. I knew bits of the information and I know that all of it is available in documentaries and other books but that didn't stop me from really enjoying this course and I have no regrets about buying it.
This course is a great starting point for anyone who wants to get into the Great Courses because it is both entertaining and accessible- it is not too dry or technical. If you are looking for a Great Course just for fun I would highly recommend this one!
"Good General History"
This is an interesting series of lectures, all of a half hour in length, which I listened to in a period of four days. I have always been fascinated by spying and espionage and bought these by the title. I enjoyed them, although I would have preferred more detail of the several case histories, they provide a good general overview of the subject if you have no prior knowledge of the subject.
"Good start point"
The lectures were given in a rather entertaining form, with a lot of information references. So I got the general story about the topic, also got several references to check afterwards if I want. I can't say it's comprehensive but definitely a good start.
Multiple books recommendation for further reading. Very entertaining.
The in fact male spy managed to convince a male French diplomat that he was a woman. They then had an affair and the spy later told the diplomat he was pregnant...
No. Several lectures were linked more closely than others so maybe listen to them in one sitting.
I feel like the title 'global' is not quite right for the content. It is more like 'western history', for except for some bits about Ninja and 'the Art of War', the Asian part is largely missing. There is far more information about British, Soviet/Russian, American. Sure, they have been the major players in modern history, still, the course is not global enough to justify the title.
"Nice overview of a hidden history"
Ranging from ancient Egypt to cyberspace, this course certainly covers a huge wealth of history. Perhaps due to it's subject matter, there is not very much in the way of overarching themes, it is more a series of anecdotes and (some) tall tales. I would certainly recommend a listen to pass the time but I don't think anyone with a serious interest in history or espionage will get too much out of it.
Some of the stories are funny, some are fascinating and some are downright depressing - the Stasi were no fun! Certainly I feel I have a much better understanding of how spy organisations work, and hearing stories about assassinations and spying in the news is much more interesting now that I can see the as part of a long history.
I hope they do an updated version with much more about SIGINT and the Snowden revelations as it's such a huge wealth of data that historians will be able to tell us quite a lot. I suppose we'll have to wait a bit for that though!
"Not the best great course"
This was ok, but I felt a bit disappointed because the great courses are normally so good. The performance is fine but the narrative lacked the interesting little details that make a good book.
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