Introduction and Short History of Spies and Spying

About a short introduction and history of spies and spying including job requirements, ancient examples and definitions.

An International Array of Spies

Occupational requirement: "An itching humor or kind of longing to see that which is not to be seen, to do that which ought not to be done, to know that secret which should not be known..."

Three Giant Steps Backward

1480 B.C.--Joshua, ordered by Moses, led a band of 11 spies into the land of Canaan.

334 B.C.--Alexander the Great intercepted outgoing mail from his soldiers and established the earliest postal espionage system.

878 A.D.--King Alfred the Great, "pioneer of the English secret service," disguised himself as a bard (an itinerant poet-singer), wandered through the Danish military camps, and obtained sufficient information to defeat the Danes at Edington.


Here are the stories of the men and women who, through their successes and blunders, their patience and intolerance, their strengths and weaknesses, contributed to the development of the massive and sophisticated spy networks of the 20th century.

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