Spies and Spying

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“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act. If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
George Orwell

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The Real Book Spy’s

june 2022 reading guide

By The Real Book Spy

Welcome to June, thriller fans!

While most of the country is finally starting to heat up, so too is the thriller genre . . . and it’s going to be one heck of a summer!

This month, there are a ton of really great books set to hit store shelves, and as always, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorites

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Socialite Who Charmed NATO Was A Russian Spy

GRU officer spent decade posing as Peruvian jewellery designer

By Shaun Walker — The Guardian

A team of investigators claim to have unmasked a deep-cover spy from Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, who spent a decade posing as a Latin American jewellery designer and partied with Nato staff based in Naples.

The investigators say the woman went by the name of Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera, and told people she met that she was the child of a German father and Peruvian mother, born in the city of Callao, Peru.

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Ronan Farrow on the Threat of Modern Spyware

By David Remnick — The New Yorker

Ronan Farrow has published an investigation into a software called Pegasus and its maker, NSO Group. Pegasus is one of the most invasive spywares known; it allows users—including law-enforcement officials or government authorities—to hack into a target’s smartphone, gaining access to photos, messages, and the feeds from a camera or microphone.

NSO markets Pegasus as a tool to catch terrorists and other violent criminals, but once a surveillance tool is on the market it can be very difficult to control. Farrow finds that Pegasus is being used to suppress political opposition in democratic nations, including Spain. The largest known cluster of Pegasus attacks has targeted people in Catalonia who support the independence movement, which the Spanish government views as a threat.

“This is not just an information-gathering tool,” Farrow tells David Remnick. “It’s an intimidation tactic, and it works.”

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Need to Know

World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence

By Nicholas Reynolds 

Historian and former CIA officer Nicholas Reynolds uncovers the definitive history of American intelligence during World War II, illuminating its key role in securing victory and its astonishing growth from practically nothing at the start of the war. 

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How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens

The inside story of the world’s most notorious commercial spyware and the big tech companies waging war against it.

By Ronan Farrow — The New Yorker

NSO Group’s software has been linked to repressive regimes, but now “all types of governments” use it, an observer said.

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Ronan Farrow on Investigating the World’s Most Notorious Spyware Company

NSO Group

By Daniel Estrin — All Things Considered, NPR

NPR’s Daniel Estrin speaks with Ronan Farrow about his New Yorker investigation into Israeli spyware company NSO Group, and his interview with an employee who quit.

A princess from Dubai, The British prime minister’s office, a Saudi women’s rights activist, prominent politicians, lawyers and activists in Catalonia – they were all victims of hacking by the world’s most notorious spyware company.

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Ronan Farrow: How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens

By Amanpour and Company

The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow recently investigated the commercial spyware industry and its implications for democracies around the world. He tells Hari Sreenivasan what he found.

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The Soviet Sisters

a novel of the cold war

By Anika Scott

A gripping new historical novel filled with secrets, lies, and betrayals, following two spy sisters during the Cold War

Sisters Vera and Marya were brought up as good Soviets: obedient despite hardships of poverty and tragedy, committed to communist ideals, and loyal to Stalin. Several years after fighting on the Eastern front, both women find themselves deep in the mire of conflicts shaping a new world order in 1947 Berlin. When Marya, an interpreter, gets entangled in Vera’s cryptic web of deceit and betrayal, she must make desperate choices to survive—and protect those she loves.

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The Crimson Thread

By Kate Forsyth

In Crete during World War II, Alenka, a young woman who fights with the resistance against the brutal Nazi occupation, finds herself caught between her traitor of a brother and the man she loves, an undercover agent working for the Allies.

May 1941. German paratroopers launch a blitzkrieg from the air against Crete. They are met with fierce defiance, the Greeks fighting back with daggers, pitchforks, and kitchen knives. During the bloody eleven-day battle, Alenka, a young Greek woman, saves the lives of two Australian soldiers.

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The Librarian Spy

By Madeline Martin

Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as a librarian while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence.

Meanwhile, in occupied France, Elaine has begun an apprenticeship at a printing press run by members of the Resistance. It’s a job usually reserved for men, but in the war, those rules have been forgotten. Yet she knows that the Nazis are searching for the press and its printer in order to silence them.

As the battle in Europe rages, Ava and Elaine find themselves connecting through coded messages and discovering hope in the face of war.

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Yesterday’s Spy

By Tom Bradby

London, 1953. Harry Towers is a recently retired, and even more recently widowed, British intelligence officer. But he springs to action when hears that his estranged son Sean has disappeared in Tehran after writing a damning article about the involvement of government officials in the opium trade.

In Tehran, a city on the brink of a historic coup, Harry’s career as a spy soon proves perfect training for this much more personal mission as American, British, Iranian, and French players flit in and out of the scene. But as the first attempt at a coup in the city fails and foreign powers jockey for oil, money, and influence, Sean’s disappearance takes on a more sinister tone. Was he really taken in retribution for his reporting, or is this an attempt to silence a globally significant revelation he was preparing to make?

Or, most terrifying of all, does Sean’s disappearance have nothing to do with him at all? Has Harry’s past caught up to them all?

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Red, White, and Spy

By John Ellsworth

Are you selling secrets to the Russians? Michael Gresham Wants to Know.

If you like legal intrigue and spies on spies, here’s Michael Gresham in a desperate chess game against a Russian sniper and American lawyers who have sold out to the Russians. The prize is the right to control American oil fields. The Russians have moved in and are claiming parts of oil fields in Oklahoma, Colorado, the Dakotas, and Montana for themselves. The plan is to take control of American energy.

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SPY NOVELISTS

Robert Baer

Bayard & Holmes

Mark Bowden

Yossef Bodansky

James Bruno

Charles Cumming

Len Deighton

Alan Furst

Saul Herzog

David Ignatius

Adam James

Sebastian Junger

Andrew Kaplan

Philip Kerr

John le Carré

Robert Littell

Mark Mazzetti

George Orwell

Chris Pavone

Martin Cruz Smith

Olen Steinhauer

David Vinjamuri

Valerie Plame Wilson

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