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All content tagged: spy books

Spy Culture - 2019-12-19 - Original post - cached version

Robbie Martin of Media Roots invited me back on the show for a lengthy, often funny discussion partly inspired by...

Spy Culture - 2019-10-01 - Original post - cached version

Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove has criticised spy author John Le Carré for his ‘nihilistic’ and ‘corrosive’ view of...

Spy Culture - 2019-09-15 - Original post - cached version

In 1998 the CIA got an opportunity to infiltrate one of their spies into the Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan,...

Spy Culture - 2019-08-04 - Original post - cached version

The 2006 arrests of the Toronto 18 was a key moment in the post-9/11 war on terror. It helped internationalise...

Spy Culture - 2019-06-02 - Original post - cached version

1994’s Clear and Present Danger is one of the most important movies in the cinema of the war on drugs,...

Spy Culture - 2019-03-31 - Original post - cached version

Osama Bin Laden’s death is the perfect postmodern event, in that most of the reports detailing how, where and when...

Spy Culture - 2019-03-10 - Original post - cached version

George Crile’s book Charlie Wilson’s War is the most in-depth account of the CIA’s support to the Afghan mujahideen, based...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-06 - Original post - cached version

Aimen Dean, born Ali Al-Duranni, was MI6’s spy inside Al Qaeda from 1998 to 2006. In this episode I do...

Spy Culture - 2018-11-28 - Original post - cached version
The FBI got back to me recently with a response to my request on The Spook Who Sat by the Door, including a few pages from Sam Greenlee's FBI file, which they'd previously claimed they could not find. Amusingly, the version of this file released to my by the National Archives contains several...
Spy Culture - 2018-10-14 - Original post - cached version
The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) was established in the late 1970s and contains their entertainment liaison office. This week I go through an 8-page summary of the CIA’s Entertainment Liaison and Media Outreach activities covering 2014-16. This includes their relationships with journalists...
Spy Culture - 2018-10-10 - Original post - cached version
The CIA's Office of Public Affairs is - ironically - very tight-lipped about what they actually do, so I was pleased that they recently responded to a 3 year old FOIA request and provided me with a document summarising their activities from 2014 to 2016. This includes numerous meetings with...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-01 - Original post - cached version
One of the growing markets in spy fiction is pop culture aimed at teenagers or ‘young adults’. The CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore depicts a junior wing of MI6, with the first novel in the series – The Recruit – depicting the recruitment, training and first mission of our protagonist, James...
Spy Culture - 2018-05-13 - Original post - cached version
In 1974 former CIA officer Victor Marchetti and former State Department official John Marks published their book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. This week I examine a file in the JFK archives that details what the CIA censored from the book, and why. I look at several categories of CIA...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-28 - Original post - cached version
Aside from Ian Fleming, there is no more influential spy author than Tom Clancy. Clancy’s books (and the films and computer games based on them) benefited from his close contact with the US government. This week we shed light on his relationships with the CIA and the NSA, and ask whether the CIA’s...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-17 - Original post - cached version
Just as with James Bond and Ian Fleming, the CIA’s CREST database is littered with reference to Tom Clancy.  In preparation for this weekend’s podcast I put together a collection of over 100 pages of internal Agency memos and open source records that record Clancy’s relationship with the CIA for...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-27 - Original post - cached version
Tom Clancy was a good friend of US intelligence.  After the publication of his enormously successful Hunt for Red October in 1984, he was repeatedly invited to speak at the CIA, NSA and FBI.  The CIA even paid him a $500 honourarium for his ‘performance’ for speaking at Langley in 1986 – but...
Spy Culture - 2017-12-13 - Original post - cached version
The latest files to be released by the National Archives include one on Kinsgley Amis - the former novelist and critic who was knighted in 1990. Amis was a member of the Communist party while at Oxford university in June 1941, though he renounced Marxism in 1956-7. MI5's monitoring of Amis,...
Spy Culture - 2017-11-26 - Original post - cached version
Arthur Ransome was a well-known children’s author, best known for his series of adventure books beginning with Swallows and Amazons. He was also close friends with the Bolshevik leadership and married Trotsky’s secretary. Meanwhile, he was spying for British intelligence, and being spied on by...
Spy Culture - 2017-10-11 - Original post - cached version

Following their on-screen debut in the James Bond movies, and their quiet support for Thunderball, the CIA under Richards Helms adopted a more pro-active approach to Hollywood. They began spying on movie scripts depicting the CIA and considering requests from film-makers for official support...

Spy Culture - 2017-06-28 - Original post - cached version
In 1988 CIA director William Webster attended the Bohemian Grove, where he gave a lakeside talk about intelligence matters. His speech, now available to the public for the first time, is both amusing and at times shocking. From Tom Clancy to a voyeuristic child who wanted to join the Agency,...
Spy Culture - 2017-03-07 - Original post - cached version

It is with some pride that I can announce that the American Journal of Economics and Sociology has today published an edition featuring not just one, not just one and a half but two articles that I wrote. The latest issue of AJES focuses on the role of the CIA and DOD in Hollywood and...

Spy Culture - 2017-02-06 - Original post - cached version

The Twentieth Day in January was published in 1980 and tells the story of an MI6 officer discovering that the Russian government is blackmailing the incoming president. In this subscriber-only podcast we take a look at the book and dwell a little on its implications, and I offer my views on...

Spy Culture - 2017-01-31 - Original post - cached version

On the face of it former CIA officer, Watergate burglar and confessed JFK assassin E Howard Hunt shouldn't have had much to do with former MPAA president Jack Valenti. They both served in WW2 (Hunt in the OSS, Valenti in the Army Air Forces) and both died in 2007. They may both have been...

Spy Culture - 2017-01-05 - Original post - cached version
Recently made available by Cryptome this NSA report originally appeared in an issue of their publication Cryptolog in 1992. It examines the role that signals intelligence (SIGINT) plays in the storylines of several John le Carré novels and considers whether the inaccuracies and limitations in...
Spy Culture - 2016-10-11 - Original post - cached version

Scorpio holds the dubious distinction of being the first film to be allowed to shoot at the CIA headquarters in Langley. Since then the likes of Patriot Games and Argo are among a very small number to have been granted that privilege. It has otherwise been overlooked in favour of more...

Spy Culture - 2016-10-06 - Original post - cached version

Author and publicist Richard Condon is best remembered for writing The Manchurian Candidate - a biting futuristic satire in which a Medal of Honor winning soldier is brainwashed by the Soviets to try to assassinate the US president. The FBI files on Condon and his most famous book draw...

Spy Culture - 2016-06-19 - Original post - cached version
Aaron Franz joins us to discuss the 2002 biopic Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which tells the story of game show producer and host Chuck Barris. Barris claims that while becoming a TV star he was recruited by and worked for the CIA as an assassin, killing a total of 33 people. In this episode...
Spy Culture - 2016-05-23 - Original post - cached version
Graham Greene was one of the most important novelists of the 20th century, and one of the greatest spy novelists of all time. He also holds the dubious honour of having worked for MI6 during WW2 but being spied on by the FBI as a suspected Communist. Few spies have FBI files, so Greene is in a...
Spy Culture - 2016-04-04 - Original post - cached version
Tom Clancy's books are known for their technical accuracy, their political realism and their curious ability to foreshadow future events. In this episode we explore his government connections - to the FBI, CIA, Pentagon and the White House. We examine whether these connections are what enabled...
Spy Culture - 2016-03-28 - Original post - cached version
Tom Clancy was one of the most popular spy authors of all time, but was he a spy himself? What are the nature of his government connections? How were the film adaptations of his novels supported by the Pentagon and the CIA? What script changes were made by the DOD in exchange for their support...
Spy Culture - 2016-03-08 - Original post - cached version
Jack Valenti was present at the JFK assassination and became a close aide to Lyndon Johnson before being made head of the Motion Picture Association of America. Valenti's lengthy FBI file - which I will be writing on in several parts - details his White House career, investigations into both his...
Spy Culture - 2016-01-11 - Original post - cached version
I recently had the pleasure of previewing The Secret Garden - an independently made spy thriller. The film is inspired by the short story The Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges, but transplants the themes and existential quandaries of that story into a CIA Cold War setting. While some...
Spy Culture - 2016-01-03 - Original post - cached version
Tom Clancy was one of the best selling spy authors of all time, known not only for his technical accuracy - gleaned through extensive government contacts - but also for an uncanny ability to predict the future. Part of his FBI file was released in 2014 but in recent weeks another section has been...
Spy Culture - 2015-11-03 - Original post - cached version
In the wake of the scandal over the CIA giving classified information to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty the Agency's Office of the Inspector General carried out an audit into their involvement in the entertainment industry. The report heavily criticises the CIA's entertainment liaison office for...

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