Espionage captures the imagination in adults of all ages. Classic novels such as John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold hold as much intrigue as real-life news stories involving MI5 whistleblowers like David Shayler. Perhaps it’s the murky area of fiction/non-fiction that makes it all so interesting. And these days the web allows this perpetual fascination to be sated by heading deep into the shadows to unearth information about spies of the world.
The FBI’s Espionage Listing allows you access to some of their declassified spy files. Amongst them Rudolf Nureyev, Guy Burgess and Kim “The Third Man” Philby - the world’s most successful spy according to the BBC’s History site.
Intelligence Search collates words, terms and codes within the world of espionage. Did you know that 71 yards is the typical distance at which a police sniper will get you? Although the .308 sniper rifle is accurate to 600 yards. Comforting.
MI5 gives an interesting official history of the “service” and there’s also an interesting FAQ, titled Myths And Misunderstandings. Question Three broaches the conspiracy theorists favourite subject of assassinations. However, don’t visit Trouser.co.uk’s MI5 page as it’s a rather good spoof site hellbent on the destruction of Shane Richie.
For some of the earliest examples of espionage technique, head to Kimsoft.com where you can read an online version of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, the oldest military treatise in the world. “If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy before the time is ripe, he must be put to death,” insists Tzu rather harshly.
Of course the BBC’s own Spooks series has hit the ground running and the Spooks site is well worth a visit, particularly the quiz section which blurs the line between reality and fiction in a fun way.
Richard Hector-Jones 15 September 05
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