Culture & Literature
The Secret History of Spies

The Secret History of Spies

The Secret History of Spies

The Secret History of Spies This new collector’s edition from BBC History Magazine charts the extraordinary history of espionage, from ancient times until the digital age. Meet some of the world’s most audacious spies and learn how they took terrible risks to shape the outcomes of global wars, using some remarkable tools and trickery. Inside you will find: ◆ Biographies of the spies who mattered most ◆ Illustrated examples of Cold War spy gadgets ◆ Amazing tales of espionage adventures ◆ Fresh insights into the secret wars that shaped many recent conflicts

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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$16.53(Incl. tax)

in this issue

1 min.

Spies are everywhere. Or, at least, the fictional ones are. Every year a host of new books, films and television series tell the stories of secret agents who engage in thrilling adventures in the world of shadows. As for the real spies, their faces may be less recognisable – for good reason! – but their stories are just as fascinating, and they have been shaping great events in history for many thousands of years. In this new collector’s edition from BBC History Magazine, we will introduce you to some of the world’s most daring agents and double agents, from the Tudor court to the modern world of digital espionage. You will discover the intelligence wars behind the major conflicts of the past two centuries and learn the tricks of the trade…

6 min.
spying through the ages

Born to peasant parents at the start of the 15th century, Joan of Arc was able to secure her place in history despite being executed before her 20th birthday. She grew up in Lorraine, in what is now north-eastern France, near the border with Germany. From an early age, Joan claimed to have been given a divine vision to protect France from English domination, at a time when the two countries were locked in the Hundred Years’ War. Her tactical prowess was impressive and she was actively involved in a number of important victories. Such was the scale of these that she met the prince who would later become Charles VII of France; it is claimed that the meeting inspired him to greater confidence and belief in the French cause. Unsurprisingly,…

7 min.
tricks of the trade

The bug fitted into the heel of a shoe and would broadcast any noise to listening spooks 1 Shoe bug How the KGB made strides in the espionage game Bugging embassies was part and parcel of the Cold War espionage game. The Soviets bugged western premises in Moscow, while former counterintelligence officer Peter Wright reminisced about how the British “bugged and burgled” their way across London. Sensitive areas were thus regularly swept for bugs. Then, in the 1960s, the Soviet KGB and their allies in the Romanian Securitate decided that the best way to avoid their bugs being discovered was for them not to be there when the sweeps took place. So they developed a bug that fifitted into the heel of a shoe. Diplomats often had their shoes posted from the west,…

10 min.
the queen’s spymaster

Looking around him in the winter of 1583, Sir Francis Walsingham saw treason lurking in every corner. A young gentleman named John Somerville had been picked up on the road from Warwickshire in the English Midlands, waving a pistol and threatening to see the queen’s head stuck on a pole. Renegade Catholic priests were spreading their ‘poison’ among subjects in both the north and the west of England. A Jesuit mission was trying to tempt King James VI to invade from Scotland. In London, Francis Throckmorton was caught in the act of selling secrets to hostile foreign powers. His interrogation in the Tower of London revealed that an army had begun to assemble in Normandy, bankrolled by Philip II of Spain and co-ordinated by English exiles in Paris. A rebellion…

1 min.
plots foiled, failed and imagined

The Ridolfi Plot Walsingham was introduced to intelligence work by William Cecil. When Roberto di Ridolfi was arrested in 1569 for laundering money for the Queen of Scots, Walsingham was entrusted with his interrogation. Elizabeth allowed Ridolfi back to Italy, where he persuaded the pope to fund a Catholic uprising under the Duke of Norfolk. But news of the plot leaked, Norfolk was executed, and the Queen of Scots revealed in her true colours. Was Ridolfi the first of Walsingham’s double agents? The Throckmorton Plot We can be more certain about Francis Throckmorton, caught up in a conspiracy between Philip II and the Duke of Guise to restore Catholicism to England. When Walsingham’s men broke into his house in November 1583, they discovered a letter to Mary Stuart and a list of English…

11 min.
the secret history of electronic espionage

The scale of interception was huge; 630 million letters passed through the system 1 First World War signals intelligence August 1914 How the enemy’s messages were intercepted in the pre-electronic age As war was declared in 1914, the British cable ship Alert was sent out on a nighttime mission to cut the underwater telegraph cables that carried German communications traffic. At the same time, a system of wartime “censorship” was established in which international telegrams and letters passing through Britain and its empire were checked by hand to look for signs of the enemy communicating. The scale of interception was huge – 630 million letters passed through the system, and 1.3 million of these were read if they were either to or from someone on a watch list. This being the preelectronic age, the…