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Publisher's Summary

The United States is losing the counterintelligence war. Foreign intelligence services, particularly those of China, Russia, and Cuba, are recruiting spies in our midst and stealing our secrets and cutting-edge technologies.   

In To Catch a Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence, James M. Olson, former chief of CIA counterintelligence, offers a wake-up call for the American public and also a guide for how our country can do a better job of protecting its national security and trade secrets. Olson takes the listener into the arcane world of counterintelligence as he lived it during his 30-year career in the CIA.    

After an overview of what the Chinese, Russian, and Cuban spy services are doing to the United States, Olson explains the nitty-gritty of the principles and methods of counterintelligence. Listeners will learn about specific aspects of counterintelligence such as running double-agent operations and surveillance. The book also analyzes 12 actual case studies to illustrate why people spy against their country, the tradecraft of counterintelligence, and where counterintelligence breaks down or succeeds.

©2019 James M. Olson (P)2019 Tantor

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What listeners say about To Catch a Spy

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  • NN
  • 10-01-19

Horrible Narrator

This book would be ok if there was a different narrator. I tried so hard to continue because the story was interesting for the most part aside from the authors personal agenda. I just could not get past the voice, tone and inflection. Terrible.

9 people found this helpful

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Learn about counterintelligence success and failures from an expert.

Ok, this book is not a how to manual on tradecraft, but if the subject of counterintelligence is of interest to you, you’ll enjoy it. The author begins with a brief survey of the counterintelligence threat. He then discusses his 10 commandments of counter intelligence. He next uses case studies (12 I think) based on real world spy cases to highlight the application of those commandments in action. He does this in a lessons learned fashion. Given the authors career in CI, the lessons of his book would be of interest to anyone considering service in the intelligence world. The book was well organized and the narration solid.

7 people found this helpful

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Incredible story by a man with a big ego

I have the utmost respect for anyone in our military, Federal law enforcement and the CIA. They are putting their lives on the line every day for the USA. The stories in this book are proof. I also appreciate the author's expertise in the field of counterintelligence.

If you like this topic, even a little, you'll really enjoy this book. However, I couldn't give it 5 stars because of the author's braggadocio in the way he talks of his experiences. Half way through I was convinced that he thinks of himself as the greatest spy hunter who ever lived. That may or may not be true but I've listened to or read many books by people who were accomplished in their field and most of them present the material in a more, shall we say, humble manner. Their purpose was to inform. I think this author had the same purpose but also to stroke his own ego.

Listen or read it but know this going un so it is hopefully less distracting when it first happens and going forward.

4 people found this helpful

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Meh

Title is catchier than the plot. I recommend you keep looking for a different book.

4 people found this helpful

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Condescending and redundant

Where was the editor?

It took great restraint to avoid the fast forward button. Mr Olson had no real narrative, just disjointed pearls of his own perceived brilliance.

He discredits himself by emphasising long disproven techniques like profiling and polygraphs.

Olson’s commentary on Jonathan Pollard had an un-subtle anti-Semitic tone.

There are thousands of books about espionage; don’t subject yourself to this arrogant, archaic drivel.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent background and tactics

Mr Olsen worked at an agency where family of mine worked. He is very interesting and intelligent. I enjoyed this and I encourage anyone working in internal affairs in any capacity to read this work.

1 person found this helpful

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Excelente.

Este es un buen libro para quien quiere conocer más sobre la labor de la contrainteligencia con casos reales y excelentes consejos.

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Very accessible

This is a very accessible book that focuses on practical elements of CI work. The principles espoused herein are applicable outside the intelligence sector and could be used in organizations such as banks and IT firms. It was satisfying to observe that the 10 rules of Counterintelligence if applied properly would probably have averted some of the biggest cases of treachery in the United States. Full marks to Prof Olson.

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Untenable narrator

Impossible to listen to. The narrator sounds like a voiceover for a commercial, and I got sick of him in less than 1 minute of listening. A disservice to Olson and the book.

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A valuable topic, but...

This is a valuable topic because espionage on American soil (and abroad) is much more coon than the American public realizes and this this topic needs more exposure. The narrator for this book was painful to listen to so despite my string interest in this topic, I'm setting the book aside. The narration is similar to the narration from old WW2 propaganda footage about the victories of the allied forces not someone living in the 2021. (For an awesome narrator, listen to anything by Ray Porter).

As far as the content that I listened to this far, the portion describing the foreign intelligence agencies was excellent, especially the part that describes Cuban intelligence. What I liked least up until what I've listened to this far is when the author is speaking about what makes a good CI officer / agent. He's a bit too "by the book" for me, a little too bland. I've known other CI agents and read books from other intelligence agents and I know you can be a good agent and still be colorful and less by the book.

I appreciate the author's public service to the country, though.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-09-19

interesting content, robot reading ruins it all

Robot reading with frustrating intonation ruining the experience of an otherwise interesting subject. Story gets 4 stars because the good choice of subject is illustrated with somewhat shallow anecdotes.

1 person found this helpful

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  • rems
  • 01-25-21

Captivating

I loved it. The story kept unfolding page by page. It is a book you won't want to stop once you start.
The author has masterfully painted a very detailed master piece. kudos!