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The Literary Spy

The Literary Spy: The Ultimate Source for Quotations on Espionage & Intelligence

Compiled and annotated by CHARLES E. LATHROP
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 496
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  • Book Info
    The Literary Spy
    Book Description:

    The Literary Spyprovides a unique view of the intelligence world through the words of its own major figures (and those fascinated with them) from ancient times to the present. CIA speechwriter and analyst Charles E. Lathrop has compiled and annotated more than 3,000 quotations from such disparate sources as the Bible, spy novels and movies, Shakespeare's plays, declassified CIA documents, memoirs, TV talk shows, and speeches from U.S. and foreign leaders and officials.Arranged in thematic categories with opening commentary for each section, the quotations speak for themselves. Together they serve both to illuminate a world famous for its secrets and deceptions and to show the extent to which intelligence has manifested itself in literature and in life. Engaging, informative, and often irreverent,The Literary Spyis an exceedingly satisfying book-one that meets the needs of the serious researcher just as ably as those of the armchair spy in pursuit of an evening's entertainment.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12892-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Glossary
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. A
    (pp. 1-29)

    “Some of the academics who were to accompany [Napoleon’s] expedition [to Egypt in 1798] began to boast, a notorious failing of clever men leading unimportant lives. . . . Had Bonaparte known of their stream of leaks he certainly must have regretted the decision to encumber the expedition with so many professional talkers.”

    JOHN KEEGAN on the “gossipy academic world” that helped inform London about the destination of Napoleonic forces inIntelligence in War(2003).

    “Libraries have a much more important role to play than they have played in the past in buttressing spot intelligence with the scholarly element.”


  6. B
    (pp. 30-37)

    “I was never in on any of the consultations, either inside the Agency or otherwise. I think it was foolish, not because I would have decided it any differently, but at least on paper I knew more about amphibious warfare than anyone in the Agency. I had made twenty-six assault landings in the South Pacific, Southwest Pacific, and so on, of about the size, many of them, as the Bay of Pigs, whereas the Marine they had advising them had made one in his whole goddam life, and that was Iwo Jima, which was three divisions abreast....He just didn‘t know...

  7. C
    (pp. 38-95)

    “We have found the track of 32 men and 3 donkeys.”

    Ancient Egyptian intelligence report regarding the border with Nubia, circa 2000 B.C.; cited in Keegan,Intelligence in War(2003).

    “Bring me back reliable information.”

    Inscription on a clay tablet, 1370 B.C., with instructions from the Hittite prince to his envoy bound for Egypt; cited in Haswell,Spies and Spymasters(1977).

    “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan . . .

    And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them,

    Get you up...

  8. D
    (pp. 96-125)

    “The Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.’”

    “Broken in war, set back by fate, the leaders of the Greek host, as years went by, contrived . . .

    . . . a horse as big as a mountain. They wove its sides with planks of fir, pretending

    This was an offering [to the gods] for their safe return. . . . But inside

    They packed, in secret, into the hollow sides

    The fittest warriors; the belly’s cavern,

    Huge as it was, was filled...

  9. E
    (pp. 126-146)

    “In late 1776 the first US intelligence agency, the Committee of Secret Correspondence of the Continental Congress, sent one William Carmichael to Europe, in the guise of a merchant, to report on a variety of economic topics of interest to the new government. . . . In a November 1776 secret dispatch from Amsterdam, Carmichael reported reassuringly that, ‘You have been threatened that the Ukraine would supply Europe with tobacco. It must be long before that time can arrive. I have seen some of its tobacco here, and the best of it is worse than the worst of our ground...

  10. F
    (pp. 147-186)

    “One of the greatest author-spies in history, Daniel Defoe, never wrote a word about espionage in his major novels. In the eyes of many, Defoe is accounted one of the professionals in the early history of British intelligence.He was not only a successful operative but later became the first chief of an orga-nized British intelligence system, a fact which was not publicly known until many years after his death. . . . Try if you will to find even the slightest reference to spies or espionage in any of [his] books. . . . I cannot dispel the conviction altogether...

  11. I
    (pp. 187-218)

    “Nobody likes the man who brings bad news.” Greek poet SOPHOCLES,Antigone(442 B.C.).

    “If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” John 8:46 (Revised Standard).

    “A wise chieftain never kills the Hun bearing bad news.Rather, the wise chieftain kills the Hun who fails to deliver bad news.”

    ATTILA THE HUN, as interpreted by Wess Roberts,Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun(1985).

    “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” FRANCIS BACON,Novum Organum(1620).

    “Though it be honest, it is never good To bring bad news: give to a gracious message

    An host of...

  12. J
    (pp. 219-224)

    “To establish a free press . . . for the frequent publication of such pieces as may be of service to the cause of the United Colonies.”

    Continental Congress, secret resolution of 26 February 1776, sending one Fleury Mesplat and his printing press to Canada; cited in Sayle, “The Historical Underpinnings of the U.S. Intelligence Community,”International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence(spring 1986). Sayle notes that one paper Mesplat founded, theMontreal Gazette,is still being published.

    “Besides the humanity of affording them the benefit of your profession, it may in the conduct of a man of sense answer...

  13. L
    (pp. 225-252)

    “What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.”

    SUN TZU,The Art of War(6th century B.C.).

    “Unless someone has the wisdom of a sage, he cannot use spies; unless he is benevolent and righteous, he cannot employ spies; unless he is subtle and perspicacious, he cannot perceive the substance in intelligence reports.”

    SUN TZU,The Art of War(6th century B.C.). An interesting list of qualifications for DCI: wise, benevolent, righteous, subtle, perspicacious. Sounds like a combination of Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, and...

  14. M
    (pp. 253-263)

    “In 1887, the [U.S.] Army posted its first attachés, to Berlin, Paris, London, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. They were instructed to ‘examine and report upon all matters of a military or technical character that may be of interest and value to any branch of the Department and the service in general.’”

    NATHAN MILLER,Spying for America(1989).

    “I would never do any secret service work. My view is that the Military Attaché is the guest of the country to which he is accredited, and must only see and learn that which is permissible for a guest to investigate. Certainly he...

  15. N
    (pp. 264-267)

    “There are always some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them.”

    Sherlock Holmes in Sir ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, “The Adventure of the Three Gables” (1926).

    “Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Napoleon—or God.”

    James Bond, played by Sean Connery, in the 1962 filmDr. No.

    “The reader would be amazed to know how many psychopaths and people with grudges and pet foibles and phobias manage to make connections with intelligence services all over the world and to tie them in knots. . . . The intelligence service is vulnerable because of its standing...

  16. O
    (pp. 268-305)

    “The first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true.Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice.”

    CICERO (106–43 b.c.),De Oratore.It is more important that these maxims be observed by U.S. intelligence analysts than by historians.

    “There is nothing so powerful as the truth—and often nothing so strange.”

    DANIEL WEBSTER,Argument on the Murder of Captain White(1830).

    “There are no whole truths; all truths are half truths. It is trying to treat them...

  17. P
    (pp. 306-346)

    “Your spy must be a man of keen intellect, though in outward appearance a fool; of shabby exterior, but with a will of iron.He must be active, robust, endowed with physical strength and courage: thoroughly accustomed to all sorts of dirty work, able to endure hunger and cold, and to put up with shame and ignominy.”

    SUN TZU,The Art of War(6th century B.C.).

    “[Union General Philip Sheridan’s spies] were a peculiar combination of intelligence operatives, communications experts, counterespionage men, and sluggers. . . . The biggest part of their job was to keep Sheridan at all times up...

  18. R
    (pp. 347-354)

    “I told you to leave no stone unturned in your recruiting. I did not expect you to take me quite so literally.”

    WINSTON CHURCHILL to Alastair Denniston, chief of Britain’s Government Code and Cypher School, after seeing the rumpled, eccentrically clothed staff of codebreakers; quoted in Russell,The Secret War(1981).

    “[OSS Director William] Donovan lifted intelligence out of its military rut, where it had little prestige and little dynamism, and made it a career for adventurous, broad-minded civilians. This tradition carried down to CIA, which regularly recruited some of the most able graduates from U.S. universities to learn the...

  19. S
    (pp. 355-374)

    “O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence hold the enemy’s fate in our hands.”

    SUN TZU,The Art of War(6th century B.C.).

    “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will bridle my mouth, so long as the wicked are in my presence.’”

    Psalm 39:1 (Revised Standard). This psalm was read as British submarine officers launched a dead body, “Major Martin,” into the sea off the Spanish coast to deceive the Nazis about the planned invasion of Sicily in...

  20. T
    (pp. 375-398)

    “I will have such revenges . . . I will do such things,—

    What they are, yet I know not; but they shall be The terrors of the earth.”

    Lear in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE,King Lear(1606), Act II, scene 4.

    “I proposed to shoot against the Americans arrows dipt in the matter of the small pox, and so conquer them by their known terror of that disorder.”

    British Major ROBERT DONKIN,Military Collections and Remarks(1777); cited in theWashington Post,13 December 2001.

    “What is one to say to an act of destructive ferocity so absurd as to be...

  21. U
    (pp. 399-406)

    “How under the sun they expect to function without it, I can’t imagine and am sure they will have to come to it in the end.”

    Former U.S. Army intelligence chief RALPH VAN DEMAN in 1917 on the need for the new League of Nations to have its own international intelligence service; cited in Miller,Spying for America(1989).

    “The CIA was formed in the immediate wake of the United Nations and with the support of people conditioned by their own activities in the UN sphere. . . . An important probability [is] that the formation of the CIA in...

  22. W
    (pp. 407-426)

    “What is called ‘foreknowledge’ cannot be elicited from spirits, nor from gods, nor by analogy with past events, nor from calculations. It must be obtained from men who know the enemy situation.”

    SUN TZU,The Art of War(6th century B.C.).

    “Let none say, ‘it cannot happen here.’”

    SOPHOCLES,Ajax(5th century B.C.). He also said (in Acrisius), “To him who is in fear, everything rustles.”

    “War, as the saying goes, is full of false alarms.”

    ARISTOTLE,Nichomachean Ethics(c. 340 B.C.).

    “In the beginning the world was so made that certain signs come before certain events.”


  23. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 427-430)
  24. Index of Sources
    (pp. 431-448)
  25. Subject Index
    (pp. 449-477)