Spy vs. Spy

Ah…now we get into the really nerdy stuff.  I am a history buff and proud of it.  I am of the opinion that you have to know where you have been in order to know where you are going.  It is absolutely appalling that so many teenagers (and here I sound really old) and young adults have no clue what the older generations have sacrificed in order to provide them with the freedoms that they enjoy today.  Good Lord I sound like I just had dinner at Denny’s at 4 in the afternoon.

I do come from military people, both my grandfathers have served, one in WWII in the Navy in the Pacific, although he saw no action (it was in the very end of the war) and another in Korea and Vietnam.  That grandfather was career military.  More on that in another post.

This post is about espionage.  I am a huge fan of the true spy books by Ben Macintyre.  I started with Agent Zigzag. moved on to Operation Mincemeat and recently finished Double Cross.  These books, if written as fiction, would sound too dramatic or unbelievable.  But these books are extensively researched and are based upon recently declassified materials from the British wartime spy services (think MI:5, MI:6 as in James Bond).  Its fascinating to note the Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, was a young officer during WWII and actually worked on Operation Mincemeat.

I love these books because of their authenticity.  I can actually point to a historical event, like the invasion of Sicily, and read about Operation Mincemeat and learn all about the minute details that went in to pulling off a deception plan of that magnitude.

The way they are written is extremely helpful as well.  Macintyre does an amazing job of keeping the reader’s attention and writing as though it is a novel, not a nonfiction book of spying and deception.  He could have spewed dry facts paragraph after paragraph.  Instead, he weaves an intricate story, builds tension and suspense page after page so that it does read like a good spy book.  The fact that it is all true makes it even that much better.

I also enjoy my U.S. Civil War history as well.  Before I had my Kindle, I read huge paperback books.  The Secret War for the Union:  The Untold Story of Military Intelligence in the Civil War by Edwin C. Fishel is one of those books (760 pages). Its worth it though.  This book provides an overview of how both sides  developed intelligence systems and put them to use throughout the Civil War.  The author himself worked in the NSA and applied his intelligence minded brain to sort through previously unknown documents found in the National Archives.  These documents  illustrate that the Union had far superior intelligence gathering and processing capabilities, but the South utilized their intelligence information in a more effective manner.  Ultimately worth the read to anyone who is a true Civil War buff or who is interested in the history of espionage in the U.S.

I have yet to visit the Spy Museum in D.C.  It is on my bucket list.  I have yet to get in to any kind of spy books per se.  Maybe that is the next genre I tackle.

Does reading a romance novel featuring a James Bond like character count?

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