This book is absolutely the best I've ever read about the CIA's "spy-techs" and the critical role they have played in supporting the five "pillars of tradecraft"--assessment, cover and disguise, concealments, clandestine surveillance and covert communications. Painstakingly researched, yet written with a novelist's flair, SPYCRAFT rips back the veils, revealing unfamiliar cases and offering fresh insights into infamous ones. From chronicling the invention of exploding pancakes to wristwatch cameras and quiet helicopters, SPYCRAFT documents how ingenious "techies" turned the CIA's lab into "the greatest toy shop in the world" and proved that if they "could think it --(they) could do it." A must-read for anyone interested in how the clever use of technology gives America's intelligence services a decisive advantage in the espionage wars.
Pete Earley, Author of Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy After The End of The Cold War and Confessions of a Spy; The Real Story of Aldrich Ames.
"The first comprehensive look at the technical achievements of American espionage from the 1940s to the present. 'Here's the laboratory,' Wallace used to tell new recruits. 'The only thing that is going to limit what you can do is your imagination.' It seems they took him at his word."
Stuffed with stories about chemical taggants, forged documents, physical and psychological disguises, software beacons that reveal the location of a cellphone or a laptop, about long-range surveillance cameras and ivory letter-opening knives, this extraordinary, detailed, accurate book tells more about what spies really do, the risks they run and their schemes to avoid them, than all the James Bond stories put together. Essential for any serious student of spycraft.
David Kahn, author of The Codebreakers
“…007 and actual spies do have one thing in common: Q, the gadget maker, who in real life was played by Wallace.”
"Co-authored by the man who ran CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS) and one of America's most respected intelligence historians, this will long stand as the definitive reference on CIA spycraft. Names, dates, and details of advanced technical gadgetry, collection operations, covert action, and even organizational infighting it’s all here. Forget James Bond’s famous "Q" and Hollywood, this is the most remarkable and revealing book ever published about the history and technology of spying in the Cold War through today's War on Terrorism."
"This is a story I thought could never be told. The CIA's super-secret gadgets and technical operations were the difference maker in the espionage wars. [The authors] have done a brilliant job of taking us into this amazing and arcane world. Behind all of us who did the front line spying for the CIA stood some remarkable and unsung heroes, the scientists and engineers of OTS. It was a beautiful partnership. Don't miss this book. Nothing like it has been written before."
James M. Olson, former chief of CIA counterintelligence and author of Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying.
"Stealing an enemy's secrets requires courage, access and, it turns out,
a suitcase of special spy gear created by the CIA's Office of Technical
Services. The KGB during the Cold War had their own wizards making
miniature cameras, listening devices, "concealments" in the form of
rocks or bricks, one-time pads and such. Some of the spy's tools are as
old as pencil and paper; others are on the cutting edge of technology,
and all -- well, maybe not quite all -- are explained and illustrated
in Spycraft. Melton is the world's leading collector of intelligence
gear, Wallace used to run the Agency's OTS and Schlesinger is a writer
with special expertise in the field. Spycraft is a kind of Cold War
espionage case book, full of new details about old stories, which
together reveal what it takes to steal a secret."
Tom Powers, author of The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (1979), Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to Al-Qaeda (2002) and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, 1971.
"...history-making, patent-never-pending objects of espionage..."
"There are enough gadgets and exploits in this book to make half a dozen espionage novels more accurate and more exciting. This book is a classic and no one who pretends to know anything about intelligence operations can afford not to read it The Agency supplied Special Forces with a range of weird gadgets in Vietnam, including some great radios and sensors to monitor trail traffic."
James F. Morris, Major U.S. Army (Ret.), Author of War Story and The Devil's Secret Name
So … the Cone of Silence was real?
It was not only real, it continues in use today.
There are technical things we can do that I was shocked to learn are within our capability, a former chair of the Senate Select Committee exclaimed. The Americans have fabulous technical resources we cannot hope to match, added a former head of British intelligence. They were talking about the CIAs Office of Technical Service (OTS).
Spycraft is the inside story of how the wizards of Langley exploited science and technology to level and then dominated the battlefield in CIAs spy wars with the KGB. As a CIA historian, I wrote the classified history of OTS at the request of Spycraft author and former OTS Director Robert Wallace. Spycraft [captures that history with] many fascinating accounts based on interviews with the men and women who performed OTSs wizardry and helped win the Cold War.
Benjamin B. Fischer, Former CIA Chief Historian
"Hollywood's early depiction of spy gadgets is not far from reality."
This is a reliable, readable, indeed often fascinating account of the
CIA's use of high-tech gadgets and machines to acquire secrets overseas.
A must for the intelligence library, as well as for anyone interested in
the security of the United States.
Loch K. Johnson, Regents Professor, University of Georgia, and senior
editor of the international journal, INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY
"Spycraft is a fascinating and often funny compendium of spook contraptions"
Spycraft is a must read for anyone interested in the world of CIA clandestine operations. The authors open a door on a hidden area that even those of us who have served in the Agency rarely see – the work of the technical wizards who risk life and limb to ensure the US Government has the critical information it needs to protect national security. Incredible research and great writing make this a fun ride through the history of this until now overlooked secret world deep inside the CIA. Even within the CIA, few individuals receive recognition for successful operations against our enemies this is especially true in the case of technical operations. The authors are finally able to bring the long overdue story of this critical side of the Agency operations to light. Let our enemies around the world see why they can run, but they cannot hide."
Gary C. Schroen, author of First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan
"You can put a lot of stuff inside the body cavity of a rat"
Now pay attention, 007 With each new gadget supplied to James Bond, Qs words carry weight and demand respect. So do the words that fill this book. SPYCRAFT unlocks the door to the secret world of CIA spy gear, beckoning us down the corridors of real-life international intrigue.
[The authors] have produced a comprehensive and historic work that is both captivating and enlightening. Impeccably researched and written with authority by these masters of intelligence, SPYCRAFT offers the greatest of spy storiestrue tales of espionage that are often more compelling than our favorite movie spy thrillers.
If James Bonds world was real, SPYCRAFT would undoubtedly be the most treasured and indispensable book in gadget-master Qs personal library.
Danny Biederman, Author, The Incredible World of SPY-Fi, Writer / Director, Hollywood SpyTek, Executive Director, SPY-Fi Archives
"Spycraft portrays the ingenuity of the CIA, the success of its operations, and the bravery of its officers."
Robert Wallace and H. Keith Mellon have combined to produce a fascinating study of CIA espionage operations and the assortment of technical devices -- including covert communications devices and miniature cameras --developed by the agency's wizards to insure those operations success.
Author, The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology.
Robert Wallace spent over three decades in the CIA, eventually heading up the Agencys Office of Technical Services (OTS). Most people who have read about the CIA rarely have heard about the dedication, exploits and sacrifice of the men and women of OTS. OTS officers have been an integral part of the Agencys clandestine operations and their technical prowess in supporting Agency operational activity is without equal. [SPYCRAFT] aptly describes the history of OTS and the many exciting, important and at times, dangerous work of OTS officers who work hand-in-hand with Agency operations officers in the clandestine world of espionage. This is an excellent book that often reads like a spy novel. All the better because all of it is true!
Mike Howard, General Manager, Microsoft Global Security and 23 Year CIA Veteran
"While there, he kept a low profile, and we family members were careful not to "out" him."
Keith Melton knows the technology of espionage as well as, or even better than most of the insiders in the spy wars that have spanned last half a century. [The authors] take us deeply into the technology race on both sides of the lines drawn in the Cold War, deftly folding the CIAs spytechs and their KGB adversaries into a spellbinding narrative of the very real human cases involved in a very deadly game. Spycraft has earned its place among the classics in the field.
Milt Bearden, Author of The Black Tulip and co-author of The Main Enemy.
"..mind-boggling doorstop of a book. Unlike most spy books this fascinating account does not linger on motivation...it concentrates on the nitty-gritty of the business."
"Spycraft is a fascinating read. Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton obviously relish the opportunity to reveal how those in the Office of Technical Service created the technologies that sometimes spelled the difference between success and failure in the work of the CIA's clandestine officers. Spycraft offers a significant and heretofore largely neglected slice of the CIA's 60-year 'story.'"
David M. Barrett, author, "The CIA and Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy"
"an intriguing history of ingenious men and women, who could invent a talking tree, an inflatable airplane and an exploding rat"
With the publication of SPYCRAFT, I can see that those of us who teach about U.S. intelligence will have to add another book to the required reading list. And I don't believe the students will complain about reading this one. It is an exciting read and a great addition to intelligence literature and is, in fact, a sort of portable intelligence museum.
Dr. Stan A. Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Brigham Young University
"Though the topic is technical, the engaging tales make this a fun read for anyone interested in espionage."
Wallace and Melton provide an in-depth account of not only the “wizardry” of OTS technology but also the innovative and often heroic application of this technology to support clandestine operations. For me, it has been a distinct honor and privilege to have had the opportunity to serve with the men and women of OTS. Their creativity and dedication to service continues to significantly contribute to US national security.
James R. Gosler, former Director, Clandestine Information Technology Office, Central Intelligence Agency
SPYCRAFT is one of the best, if not the best and most revealing books on intelligence ever written. It is a must read for anyone interested in intelligence, whether the reader is an historian, an "aficionado," or someone seeking an understanding of the profession. If only we had had some of those tools when I was a young ops officer.
Larry Devlin, author of Chief of Station, Congo and former Chief, CIA Africa Division.
Until I read SPYCRAFT, a history of the CIAs development of technology to facilitate the art of spying from WWII to the present, I thought that James Bond and Maxwell Smart were figments of creative writers fanciful imagination. Now, Im not so sure.
You think you are buying a half-pound of flour at your local grocery. Well, you may be, but you also may be getting a concoction that, with some creative mixing, you can turn into a bomb as well as a pancake. Or you may discover that your eccentric house cat, which acts wired much of the time, may behave that way because it is broadcasting secrets to those you wouldnt want to hear them. Or you may find to your total surprise that the quiet, unassuming nebbish who lives next door and whom you believe is a lowly governmental employee, is a person who takes extraordinary risks and exhibits profound courage on your countrys behalf as he install bugs, and I dont mean cockroaches, under extremely dangerous circumstances in the walls of foreign embassies belonging to countries dedicated to doing us harm.
Written by authors who have experienced aspects of the life they describe, SPYCRAFT is an engrossing, ultimately thought-provoking, account of the role of technology, human courage, and human frailty. [It] will leave you wondering whether your colleagues fountain pen is ultimately a high-resolution camera designed to take pictures of secret materials filched form your files or the files of an enemy agent or simply an instrument for writing love letters to his/her beloved or both.
Jerry B. Harvey, management consultant and Author, Abilene Paradox and Other Meditations on Management and How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed in the Back My Fingerprints Are on the Knife?