Catholic foes at home and abroad plotted tirelessly to murder or overthrow England's Queen Elizabeth I; in turn, her chief "spymaster," Sir Francis Walsingham, established a dazzlingly complex network of agents who safeguarded her long reign with ruthless cunning and efficiency. The Watchers illuminates 16th-century spygames in an action-packed narrative laced with masterful understanding of Elizabethan society's greatest hopes and fears. Fans of the period will love this "irresistible" (Booklist) read; political history buffs interested in the roots of modern espionage -- or the fine line between national security and repression -- will, too.
In The Good Spy, author Kai Bird builds a comprehensive profile of CIA intelligence officer Robert Ames, who died in the 1983 bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Ames specialized in Arabic language and Arab history and politics, becoming a recognized expert who served as a key policy advisor to U.S. decision makers. Committed to finding solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ames emphasized fact-finding and rational policy analysis despite American partisan political pressures and decreasing stability in Lebanon and Iran. This page-turner portrays a family man and dedicated professional within a detailed history of the region, along with information about the bombers and where they were as of the book's 2014 publication.
In The Spy Who Loved, author Clare Mulley vividly depicts the exploits of Christine Granville, one of the few female British special agents operating behind enemy lines during World War II. Despite the British Intelligence Service's opposition to women's participation, she provided invaluable assistance to the Allied cause, employing her remarkable facility with languages, considerable courage and physical ability, and charismatic personality. Mulley did extensive documentary research on Granville (who was murdered in 1952), making up for her associates' reluctance to supply personal recollections of her exploits. For additional page-turning accounts of female British intelligence agents, try Sarah Helm's A Life in Secrets or Marcus Binney's The Women Who Lived for Danger.
Jack Devine, who retired in 1999 as the associate director of overseas operations for the CIA, served under U.S. presidents from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton. In this compelling memoir, he relates the history of covert actions during that period, details several instances of mole-hunting in the Agency, and discusses the state of intelligence work since his retirement: he continues to support the use of covert operations while expressing doubt about the current emphasis on paramilitary actions. Whether you're fascinated by spycraft or more interested in the undercover history of the late 20th century, you'll find Good Hunting an engaging and informative read.