It’s Spies and Espionage on FiveBooks this week, with more than 25 book recommendations on the wilderness of mirrors that is the world of the secret services.
Espionage week kicks off on FiveBooks with Dr Michael Goodman of King’s College London’s Department of War Studies discussing the eccentric pioneers of the British and American intelligence services – the guns, wooden legs, boozing, paranoia and genius that became MI5, MI6 and the CIA.
Then Audrey Kurth Cronin of the US National War College says that understanding the differences between individuals, local movements, and the core of al-Qaeda is at the heart of efforts to be much more sophisticated in knowing the enemy–especially its vulnerabilities. ‘We are making good progress,’ she says. ‘But there are no silver bullets.’ She chooses five books on terrorism.
On Wednesday, bestselling spy novelist Charles Cumming joins Espionage Week and explains the universal appeal of spies: ‘I believe that people have different masks, and there’s something in spy fiction that accesses that private, secret part of ourselves. The world of espionage fiction, with its lies and manipulations, is not so far removed from the lies and manipulations we are all guilty of in our own lives.’ He chooses the best five books on spying.
On Thursday we’ve got author Guy Walters choosing five books on Nazi Hunting. That the British failed to apprehend the thousands of Nazis who went on the run after the war is disgraceful, he says. ‘We thought it was a criminal regime but we didn’t go on to prosecute the 80,000 people who committed murders and greater crimes,’ he says. ‘Nazi Hunting basically stopped after 1948 when about 5% of them had been caught, if that.’
Author and Times journalist Ben Macintyre concludes Espionage Week on FiveBooks
and says the British are particularly good at spying and writing about spying. He puts it down to a class system that encouraged subterfuge – hiding feelings, thoughts, sexuality. ‘I think there’s an imaginative flair too,’ he says. ‘In Iraq and Afghanistan most of the more elaborate ruses that have been pulled off are British. Nobody does it better.’
Then, on FiveBooks Weekend, we’ve got
Dean and Hopkins P Breazedale Professor at the Manship School on Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, John M Hamilton, with his five books on American foreign reporting including Dorothy Thompson’s withering interview with Adolf Hitler before he became Chancellor and Edgar Snow’s world-changing infiltration of the Chinese Communists.