Monday, July 21, 2008

Review: The Guinness Book Of Espionage by Mark Lloyd

This is one of those hard to classify books. It's not really a narrative history of espionage, but it's not really an encyclopedia or reference work. It does have some chapters devoted to the history of spying and also to current activities such as industrial espionage, but none of the accounts of really detailed as much as they are just interesting snippets of information or even trivia. Other chapters relate the nuts and bolts of the spying business, from miniature cameras to an entire chapter devoted to airborne espionage, including a number of entries for current intelligence gathering aircraft. There is quite a number of pages devoted to British espionage efforts in occupied Europe in WW2, including some fascinating detail about their radios. There are also long detailed retelling of some of the more important espionage scandals of the second half of the twentieth century, such as the Kim Philby affair. However, other affairs and incidents are only briefly covered or completely ignored. Probably the best way to assess this book is to see it as a sort of Whitman Sampler of spying. You get a taste of this and a nibble of that and perhaps you'll find a subject into which you would like to delve further. Overall it's a fairly easy to read overview of the subject.

Link to LibraryThing entry for this book

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