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The New Spymasters by Stephen Grey - Inside Espionage from the Cold War to Al-QaedaIn this era of email intercepts and drone strikes, many believe that the spy is dead. What use are double agents and dead letter boxes compared to the all-seeing digital eye?They couldn't be more wrong. The spying game is changing, but the need for walking, talking sources who gather secretThe New Spymasters by Stephen Grey - Inside Espionage from the Cold War to Al-QaedaIn this era of email intercepts and drone strikes, many believe that the spy is dead. What use are double agents and dead letter boxes compared to the all-seeing digital eye?They couldn't be more wrong. The spying game is changing, but the need for walking, talking sources who gather secret information has never been more acute. And they are still out there.In this searing modern history of espionage, Stephen Grey takes us from the CIA's Cold War legends, to the agents who betrayed the IRA, through to the spooks inside Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Techniques and technologies have evolved, but the old motivations for betrayal - patriotism, greed, revenge, compromise - endure. This is a revealing story of how spycraft and the 'human factor' survive, against the odds.Based on years of research and interviews with hundreds of secret sources, many of the stories in the book have never been fully told. The New Spymasters will appeal to fans of John le Carre, Jason Bourne and Ben Macintyre.Stephen Grey is a British writer, broadcaster and investigative reporter with over two decades of experience of reporting on intelligence issues. He is best known for his world exclusive revelations about the CIA's program of 'extraordinary rendition', as well as reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. A former foreign correspondent and investigations editor with the Sunday Times, he has reported for the New York Times, Guardian, BBC and Channel 4, and is currently a special correspondent with Reuters. Grey is the author of Ghost Plane (2007), on the CIA, and Operation Snakebite (2009) about the war in Helmand, Afghanistan....

Title : The New Spymasters: Inside Espionage from the Cold War to Global Terror
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780670917402
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The New Spymasters: Inside Espionage from the Cold War to Global Terror Reviews

  • Willow
    2019-01-02 17:00

    I received my copy of The New Spymasters through the Goodreads giveaway program, in exchange for a fair an honest review.I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting from this book, but The New Spymasters managed to both exceed and defy those expectations. Let me start by saying what this book is NOT:1. A comprehensive look at spying and espionage across the globe. Instead, this book covered four broad periods of history from a narrow scope -- The Cold War, through the eyes of English and Soviet spies; the Irish Rebellions through moles in the IRA; the so-called "War on Drugs" through criminal recruits of SIS; and, most extensively, the "War on Terror", through its various successes and missteps. This book had practically nothing on Edward Snowden and the implications of his findings, or on the extensive corporate and govt. espionage by China. It's hard to fault Mr. Grey for this, though, given his background and interests.2. A sensationalized unit pusher. I appreciated Grey's willingness to documents his sources wherever possible, and to avoid sacrificing fact for narrative.3. A textbook. There are facts, dates, and the gradual progress through the past century, but The New Spymasters chooses to tell this history through individual case studies. The author's own analysis and opinions on the source material are laced throughout, and summed up at the end of each chapter.What this book IS, is a extraordinarily long essay on the strengths and weaknesses of human intelligence (HUMINT), leading up to some conjectures and suggestions for how it should be used going forward. The first three parts of the book (covering various agents and operations) were, for the most part, solidly written. Several were quite gripping. The stories of Steak Knife (Chapter 3, Friendship), Curveball (Chapter 6, Caveat Emptor), and Humam al-Balawi (Chapter 8, Allah Has Plans) were probably my favorites. The last part of the book was all summation and analysis, and Mr. Grey drew some interesting conclusions.All in all, this was an enjoyable, if somewhat dense, book. If you are looking for a fairly thorough look into the role of spying during the recent conflicts in the Middle East, then this is a good place to start; of the twelve chapters in this book, fully seven of them are dedicated to the "War on Terror". If you are looking for information on China, domestic spying, or other modern conflicts, you may want to look for a different source.3.5/5.0 -- a solid book.

  • Inga Springe
    2019-01-02 16:59

    Ļoti labi savākts materiāls, bet brīžiem diezgan akadēmiska. Grāmata vairāk tiem, kas interesējas par šo tēmu.

  • Tom
    2019-01-20 18:40

    Picked up off the new non-fiction shelf at the local library ... pretty dry and somewhat of a slog, could have just read just the last chapter, but I think it's worth reading just to be informed on what's being done in our names.

  • Mike Maurer
    2019-01-10 16:49

    This is an interesting look at espionage of old and of new. Essentially Cold War, The 1990's, then post-9/11. The book contains a fair amount of interviews and the author has been to the places discussed.The author makes a pitch that during the Cold War espionage didn't change the outcome of history all that much. During that time, it was all human spying. Then as is now, the spy masters don't spy directly. They hire / recruit others to do the spying for them. As such, it is a long game for turning people into traitors of their own countries.In the new era, post 9/11, the espionage agencies rely mostly on electronic means of spying. While great for tracking, it doesn't lend itself well to understanding the environment. Several examples are given where mistakes were made and innocent people killed because it is easier to watch a screen then go out on the street and talk. We don't understand the conflicts or the people, which has turned the agencies from intelligence gatherers to target trackers. The agencies don't want to know, as the political will doesn't want to know. It is easier to make the "enemy" a faceless horde than into people with issues and desires, just like us.The book does start out a bit slow. It took me awhile to get through the first section. Almost like how old british who-done-it books, dry in the beginning, then building up to a can't-put-it-down section about the blunders post 9/11. It will make you question what we really know, learn how spies are really run (no James Bond here), and that the Western agencies need to work the long game again.

  • Bchara
    2018-12-23 11:37

    Any spy book is entertaining to read. This one is expected to deal particularly with spymasters, and how they manage their agents, but also the place of HUMINT (intelligence gathered by humans) in today's word (this last question not being a new subject - i remember reading a far more lively book by Robert Baer on the subject).Reading the book was fun. The author picked a few operations, dealt with by chapters, in a chronological (and in the same time thematic order). Each chapter tells the details of one operation. now most of these operations are known and written about, but the author makes use of the declassified information to shed new lights. And in many cases, he defends that certain criticism against secret services were unjustified or exxagerated. On a personal level, i was interested in the chapters about the IRA and the EOKA, topics i never have read about from the spying perspective.On the other hand, though, i found the writing unfocused - many ideas are repeated over and over. The last chapter was actually very dull to read, since most of it was already said, and the author took a moralising stance. And then, he stresses the need to use spying to understand other cultures. But isnt that already done? How much more can you understand groups like Al Quaeda or ISIS? The last chapter, with such utopic claims, and dull repetitions, kind of ruined the book for me at the end.

  • Tom Dawn
    2019-01-17 18:41

    Readable workaday run-through of the British spy business since the formative days of what we generally call MI6 nowadays. A lot of it should sound familiar if you follow the news, but it's helpful to have a timeline fitted to it and an interpretation of the 'trends'. The discussion over how useful information-gathering is, was informative. Also interesting to note the hypocrisy by which the spymasters use 'higher values' to appeal to foreign agents, but then treat our own traitors as, well ... traitors.

  • Craig Dickson
    2019-01-03 13:49

    An overview of espionage through history, focussing especially on the 20th and 21st centuries, it was engagingly written and full of information. Understandably the later parts were heavily about the war on terror and jihadist groups, which was interesting, but I had hoped for more about espionage against Putin's Russia (mainly after reading Red Sparrow and listening to the Power Vertical). Good though!

  • Daniel
    2019-01-10 14:55

    Good history, interesting analysis and lots of practical insights.

  • Fran Fisher
    2019-01-06 15:03

    Verrry interesting.I especially like the way the author details the changes in spying from the cold war-Kim Philby days, to the current, less moored time. His perspective helps me clarify for myself what is going on with terror groups and their trackers

  • JQAdams
    2019-01-20 12:52

    Even after reading the book, I'm not sure what the author's point was. He's clearly very earnestly trying to convey something about the role of human intelligence (that is, spying) in a world of Big Data and non-state adversaries like criminal gangs and terrorist organizations. And part of how he does that is by Monday-morning quarterbacking a lot of intelligence-agency decisions; I don't disagree with his criticisms of most of the individual operations, but it didn't really seem like a great strategy for learning or conveying the broader lessons the author is trying to draw.What salvaged the book to three stars for me stemmed from the author's being British and evidently having his best sources in British intelligence. This meant that a lot of the spying campaigns he focused on were British operations, which produced a focus on historical cases that are less overfamiliar than the CIA/KGB Cold War actions, or the intelligence failures surrounding al-Qaeda's attacks on the United States. There is to be sure some content relating to those episodes, but you're just as likely to read about a Cypriot would-be assassin turned London drug smuggler who acted as an informant to rat out his competitors or efforts to infiltrate the Irish Republican Army. That eclecticism made the obscurity (or pointlessness) of the book's central thrust much more tolerable.

  • Jedi Kitty
    2018-12-21 11:46

    Through 10 or so very readable vignettes, Grey explores the modern world of human intelligence and the challenges and opportunities spy-handlers and agencies face today. Grey identifies several tensions in the use of HUMINT against terrorists. The balance between acting too early(and breaking an agent's cover) or acting too late to stop an attack, between protecting a spy from committing crime themselves and encouraging them to go deeper into the organization, the tradeoffs services must make when they recruit criminals as agents, or the dangers of trusting a source too much (Curveball) or too little (Kim Philby). He weighs espionage against "discrete diplomacy" and the US reliance on tech and it's "all-seeing eye" against basic "common sense", or on-the-ground awareness. He illustrates the many legal and moral pitfalls that handlers and agencies have fallen into during the Cold War, the Troubles, and for the swing half of of the book, GWOT. All of these conflicts and tradeoffs illustrate the difficulty of operating in the vital but moral greyzone of running human spies. This book is accessible for readers unfamiliar with the subject.

  • Russ
    2019-01-21 13:35

    this book is well worth reading for anyone who has an interest in current / international events, particularly why some of the things that have happened in recent years have come about the way they did, particularly since 9/11. The author starts with a brief overview of the history of (mainly British) intelligence in the 20th Century, before concentrating on events between the end of the Col War & now, highlighting the differences in collecting intelligence against an equal but opposite opponent in the Soviet Union, compared to the fractured & decentralised networks that make up most of the main threats to security. The author doesn't shy away from hard conclusions, stating that recent intelligence failures have been linked to an over dependence on technology as opposed to more traditional methods of spying, & a more short term, results based system means that longer term objectives & obtaining a wider view of the situation on the ground have been sacrificed for a quick kill, which is more (dare I say) vote worthy for the intelligence commuity's political masters.

  • Adrian
    2019-01-08 15:54

    It starts with a chapter on the modern roots of espionage, then poses the question do we still need spies? If so how should they support the signals intelligence which is so prominent today? Chapters which detail how intelligence agencies have been let down by using only signals intel (that is captured phone records, emails and the use of satellite cameras) such as the WMD cockup in Iraq and the assassination of a misidentified target in Afghanistan are very good. Grey repeats many times that this kind of intelligence is only effective when corroborated by human intelligence on the ground, that is by spies. But he is less successful when giving examples of great spywork. A chapter on British intermediary Alistair Crooke is weak. He is also too cavalier about the mass of information collected by groups like the NSA assuring us that this seldom infringes on the public's privacy. I can't be as sure as he appears to be. A mixed bag.

  • Andrewh
    2019-01-15 14:01

    The title is slightly misleading as the book is actually not about spymasters but about the agents they run ('spies') and the value, or unreliability, of what is technically known as 'humint' (human intelligence). It is certainly not a 'searing history' of modern espionage, though, blurb writers, but more of a series of somewhat disconnected journalistic essays on various well-known historical cases of undercover agents (such as Steak Knife, within the IRA) and then some more up to date stuff on the GWOT and the difficulty of penetrating the current terrorist groups and thereby countering their threats. The book is well written and readable but seems to lack a major theme or argument.

  • Wayne
    2018-12-21 18:48

    This book was an entirely different type of book that I would normally read. When I read, "The First Rule Of Intelligence? Forget Everything You Know", I knew that I would enjoy reading the book. Stephen Grey gives you an up close look into the world of espionage today, and what direction it is moving. I highly recommend the book to those who are interested in these types of books.

  • Samantha
    2018-12-26 18:55

    I received this book through Goodreads Firstreads, and let me start off by just saying how perfect the cover is. The book is super interesting too for those that are into the world of espionage. Would recommend!

  • Rae
    2019-01-07 14:53

    Meh. Awfully dry writing.

  • Vikas Datta
    2019-01-15 18:02

    Superb treatment of this often misunderstood topic...

  • Inti
    2018-12-30 12:49

    Both exceeded and defied my expectations - iJalill

  • Enko Khurlee
    2019-01-14 16:39

    Not up to expectations. Omitted the NSA revelations and heavily concentrated on the humint aspect of spycraft. Reading after "A Billion Dollar Spy"and compating them affected my rating as well.

  • Martin Mckenna
    2018-12-31 18:43

    Started well but quickly got a bit tedious, found I was not that interested in the minutiae of fairly obscure spies or terrorists.