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Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda | [Robert Wallace, Henry Robert Schelsinger]

Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda

Now, in the first book ever written about this ultrasecretive department, the former director of OTS teams up with an internationally renowned intelligence historian to give listeners an unprecedented look at the devices and operations deemed "inappropriate for public disclosure" by the CIA just two years ago.
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Publisher's Summary

  • Secret instructions written in invisible ink
  • Covert communications slipped inside dead rats
  • Subminiature cameras hidden in ballpoint pens

If these sound like the stuff of science fiction or imaginary tools of James Bond's gadget-master Q's trade, think again. They are real-life devices created by the CIA's Office of Technical Service. Now, in the first book ever written about this ultrasecretive department, the former director of OTS teams up with an internationally renowned intelligence historian to give listeners an unprecedented look at the devices and operations deemed "inappropriate for public disclosure" by the CIA just two years ago.

Spycraft tells amazing life-and-death stories about this little-known group, much of it never before revealed. Against the backdrop of some of America's most critical periods in recent history - including the cold war, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the war on terror - the authors show the real technical and human story of how the CIA carries out its missions.

©2008 Robert Wallace, H. Keith Melton, and Henry R. Schlesinger; (P)2008 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Forget James Bond's famous 'Q' and Hollywood, this is the most remarkable and revealing book ever published about the history and technology of spying." (Peter Earnest, executive director, International Spy Museum)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Richard Cocoa, FL, USA 07-29-08
    Richard Cocoa, FL, USA 07-29-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    8
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    "Unique, informative history of the CIA"

    This is truly a unique book -- a long, unique book. However, potential readers (listeners) should not be intimidated by its sheer length. To the contrary, its varied themes, part CSI, part spy stories, part behind-the-scenes history, make it an interesting and entertaining collection.

    At first glance, it may appear that this book was written just for those who enjoy reading spy novels and Popular Mechanics, or Popular Electronics. The technical details are adequate to tell the amazing story of the CIA's engineers and technicians, but they may not satisfy dedicated technophiles. This is not a "how-to" book. After all, there are security concerns about releasing the material in this book, and the authors obviously want to tell the story of these resourceful, creative CIA officers to as wide an audience as possible. By avoiding excessive technical minutiae, they were successful in keeping the book informative, yet readable.

    With all of the post 9-11 CIA memoirs and histories that have been released in the past several years, it is difficult to decide what to read about this organization that plays such an important role in our nation's defense and security. However, this book, due to its unique technical insider perspective, stands out from these others as a "must read" for anyone who seeks to have an understanding and appreciation of the CIA's past, and more importantly, its future.

    34 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    09-29-08
    09-29-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "Techno-weenie heaven"

    This book is Techno-Weenie Heaven. I personally have to deal with developing and evaluating new tech, and adapting stuff to tasks for which they were never intended. So, for me, this book is like crack. Loved it.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Elliott 08-24-08
    B. Elliott 08-24-08 Member Since 2007

    Bruce

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "Spycraft"

    Spycraft, an important work that must be listen to/read and understood, especially in light of cooling relations with the Russians(once again). Anyone who has lived through the cold war will remember the tensions of the 'doomsday' clock and how it colored our world. As I remembered living through those times I felt there was an under current beyond our perception, struggling for domiance. This book details the struggle and fills in all the things you thought must have been happening.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Wiliamstown, NJ, USA 08-13-08
    Jason Wiliamstown, NJ, USA 08-13-08

    Avid history and fiction/non-fiction fan.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
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    "A Gadget Guy or Gal's Favorite History"

    Great book! The in-depth technical analysis along with dramatic story provide something for every technophile.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Lafayette, LA, United States 08-14-08
    Richard Lafayette, LA, United States 08-14-08 Member Since 2006

    I am a Sgt. assigned to the detectives division of a municipal police department. I lean towards non-fiction espionage books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    21
    5
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    "One of the best espionage related books availble!"

    If you are interested in the CIA or espionage, you must purchase this book. I learned more from this book than from all the other books I have read on the CIA combined. EXCELLENT BOOK!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Dewald Surrey, UK 04-22-10
    Rachel Dewald Surrey, UK 04-22-10 Listener Since 2009

    rage2o

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
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    3
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    "Interesting history of espionage technology"

    It always helps when the reader of the audio book (David Drummond in this case) is engaging, and this was definitely an example of that. It actually felt like he was the one who wrote it, it was so smooth.

    The content is fascinating; exploring spy technology from the old OSS up through now. It was really cool to hear about how audio surveillance has changed over the years. Today we forgot just how much transistors and integrated circuits have truly shrunk things.

    Another great aspect is the personal touch, the book is not just about the technology but the people in the OTS ("techs") who deploy (frequently at high risk) the surveillance or even defuse bombs.

    Highly recommended!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denis G. Dimick Los Alamos, NM USA 03-29-10
    Denis G. Dimick Los Alamos, NM USA 03-29-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    41
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    "Very good"

    I was given a MP3 copy of some of the book, liked it so much I bought the Audible book. This book has stayed on my iPod even after listening to it.

    The history and stories in this book are fantastic, it gives you a new view into this part of our history.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margot Manassas, VA, USA 12-30-08
    Margot Manassas, VA, USA 12-30-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    26
    1
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    "Love this book!"

    As an audio tech this book was the best. A great history of all the hard working technical folk protecting America behind the scenes. Bright and creative, working behind "the cool spies" the are the folks who made them cool. This book kept me laughing with the crazy ideas that worked!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew B Lambert Wilson, NC United States 10-04-08
    Matthew B Lambert Wilson, NC United States 10-04-08 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "Starts off slow, but builds."

    After the first hour or two, I thought it was'nt going to be very good. But it builds. The book jumps around a lot.

    Semi-technical. Historical. Funny.

    More in-depth than I thought it was going to be.

    /technical job. amateur radio operator.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerald fitchburg, WI, United States 09-01-10
    Gerald fitchburg, WI, United States 09-01-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Historically interesting ... but manipulative"

    Interesting book. Fun. But, has a tendency to leave out some very important historical details. Extremely white washed version of the history of the CIA. Paints some people who where clearly villains as patriots. If you're going to read this book... spend some time on "Legacy of Ashes." They balance each other.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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