Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Ultimate Spy Book

Keith Melton is a well known author of several spy books and an expert on espionage equipment and clandestine devices. He has an enormous collection of these unique spy tools. This book is beautifully illustrated with more than 600 detailed images of ingenious spy accessories and weapons. The book starts with a brief historical review on the beginnings of espionage, the First World War and the Russian revolution. Melton takes us back to the Second World War, with the British SOE - Special Operations Executive , the American OSS - Office of Strategic Operations and the German Abwehr, Sicherheitsdienst and Gestapo. The covert communications equipment, suitcase radios, special weapons, the cracking of codes and Soviet wartime spy rings.

However, the major part of the book is, not surprisingly, about the Cold War. The Cold War was a period in history that was characterised by mistrust and fear between East and West. These were the heydays of espionage, with Berlin as the capital of spies. Many of the most notorious spy cases were about the battle for intelligence information between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This battle was fought in the sky, with U2 spy planes and satellites, but also on the ground by intelligence officers and their agents in enemy territory. Hidden and automatic cameras for observation such as the Robot Star, small mini cameras like the famous Minox or the F21 with its lens in a jacket button for clandestine photography and small camera systems to copy documents. Communications equipment for covert operations, monitoring equipment, dead drops to secretly pass documents and films. It's all in the book.

Melton also brings us the story of secret operations and the special devices that were developed for these operations. If there are spies, there's counter-intelligence. Bug detectors, anti-eavesdropping equipment, interception of documents and all kind of tools to burgle or secretly gain access to installations or documents of the enemy. Training and recruitment, spy rings, false covers and legends, it's all there. But above all, The Ultimate Spy is a book to watch, with many splendid photos about the art of spy-craft and its technology. A book that would make James Bond's Mister Q jealous. ISBN: 0789404435

More book reviews are found on my website.

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