8 Best Spy Books Non Fiction Update 05/2022

If you want to learn about real-life spying, forget the tuxedos and martinis. Here are six stories of real-life espionage, from the story of legendary spymaster “M” to the shocking autobiography of double agent Kim Philby.

M by Henry Hemming (2018)

Maxwell Knight was a strange person. Jazz and nature fanatic: He was one of MI5’s best spymasters, even though he used to be part of the British Fascisti. He is now seen as one of the best MI5 spies, even though he used to be a member of the British Fascisti himself. People who worked with him called him “M,” and he was thought to have been the inspiration for the character “M” in James Bond movies.

Knight became a legendary spymaster even though he had almost no experience. What set him apart from his friends was that he could make anyone into a fearless secret agent. He was the first person in MI5 to see that training female agents could be a good idea.

My Silent War by Kim Philby (1967)

In the history of espionage, one name stands out above all others: that of H. A. R. “Kim” Philby, the leader of the Cambridge spies. Philby was a member of the British establishment when he joined the Secret Intelligence Service in 1940. He rose to be the head of Soviet counterintelligence, and as M16’s liaison with the CIA and the FBI, he leaked all of the secrets of Allied operations to the Russians, putting the success of covert operations to roll back the Iron Curtain at risk.

As a work of fiction, My Silent Wars changed the world. It was written in Moscow in 1967, and it was the first book to show the unrepentant spy in fiction: Among other things, it inspired John Le Carre to write the Smiley books and the spy novels of Graham Greene later in his life. Kim Philby was the best spy in history. As a writer, he was also very good. He gave us one of the best-known stories from the Cold War and changed the way espionage writing was done.

Open Secret by Stella Rimington (2001)

Open Secret

The story of MI5’s transformation is very interesting. Her account of her rise to power in a man’s world, “Guardian,” is also very interesting.

Stella Rimington worked for MI5 from 1969 to 1996. During that time, she worked in all three main areas of the Service’s work: countersubversion, counterespionage, and counter-terrorism. She was Director of all three branches at the same time. As Director-General of MI5 in 1992, she was in charge. She was the first woman to hold the job and the first Director-General whose name was made public when she was hired. During her time as DG, she tried to make MI5 more open. She gave the Dimbleby Lecture on BBC TV in 1994, gave other public lectures, and published a booklet about the Service.

The Spy’s Bedside Book by Hugh Greene and edited by Graham Greene (1957)

In 1957, The Spy’s Bedside Book by Hugh and Graham Greene sparked a lot of attention. 100 copies were bought by East German Intelligence. A new introduction by Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, includes stories by some of the best writers and spies, like Ian Fleming and John Buchan, Sir Robert Baden-Powell and Belle Boyd, Walter Schellenberg and Major André, and Sir Paul Dukes and Vladimir Petrov, as well as stories by William Le Queux and E. Phillips Oppenheim, from the golden age of mystery and suspense. William Blake, D.H. Lawrence, and Thomas Mann are also on the list. They are all suspected of being spies in three great wars.

Churchill’s Iceman by Henry Hemming (2014)

Geoffrey Pyke was said to be one of the best minds in the world during World War II. He was an inventor, adventurer, and polymath. He was an unlikely hero of both world wars, but he did a lot of good things. He made a lot of money on the stock market, started an important pre-school, and is thought of as the father of the U.S. Special Forces, so people call him the “father.” In 1942, he got Winston Churchill to agree to build an aircraft carrier out of reinforced ice, and he did it. He escaped from a German WWI prison camp, wrote a best-selling book, and helped the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War after he did that. He even tried to stop the Second World War on his own. He sent a group of pollsters disguised as golfers into Nazi Germany. And he may have been a spy from Russia, as well. Henry Hemming tells the full story of Pyke, who died 70 years ago. He talks about Pyke’s genius, his flaws, and his life of adventures, ideas, and secrets.

Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke: Genius, Fugitive, Spy:  Hemming, Henry: 9781848094437: Amazon.com: Books

Soldier Spy by Tom Marcus (2017)

A lot of people don’t know that they work for a company. Ex-MI5 officer Tom Marcus (not his real name) gives a fascinating look at what it’s like to work for British intelligence and what is kept from happening in London almost every day. The number of attacks that have been thwarted will scare you.

Soldier Spy by Tom Marcus - Paperback - 2017 - from Vikram Jain Books (SKU:  BD1-9781405927895)

Hitler’s Spy Chief By Richard Bassett

It would be enough if this book was just about the head of the Abwehr (Nazi Germany’s secret service). That would be enough to keep us reading. Even though Wilhelm Canaris was an important Nazi spy, he was more than that. He was also a kind of double agent who worked against Hitler from inside. He even planned to kill the notorious Nazi leader.

The Falcon and the Snowman By Robert Lindsey

There are very few people who do espionage in a very specialized, professional way. It turns out, though, that anyone can be a spy. As far back as the Cold War, two people who didn’t seem very patriotic found out how easy it was to sell American secrets to the Soviet Union. Lindsey’s spy book tells their story in all its weird, drug-addled glory.

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