Title:                  Spyclopedia

Author:             Richard Deacon

Deacon, Richard (1987). Spyclopedia: The Comprehensive Handbook of Espionage. New York: William Morrow

LCCN:    88031266

UB250 .D43 1987



  • “First published in Great Britain in 1988 under the title Spyclopaedia by Macdonald & Co.”–T.p. verso.

Date Updated:  January 22, 2013

This Blog presents suggested references and sources related to “The Spying Game.” I started from a list provided by Nigel West, but I have done the checking of the bibliographic data and added reviews. I have added a huge number based on my research and reading lists from other sources. In order to make the blog manageable I am including only books in these entries. The literature is almost infinite when one expands to every published item on the spying game.

As a first entry I list Spyclopedia, by Richard Deacon, author of several books on intelligence. Deacon provides an informative reference guide to spies and spying around the world over the last 2500 years. He gives thumbnail sketches of the intelligence organizations of 33 nations. Entries on individuals and operations are grouped into three time periods: from 510 B.C. to 1918, then through World War II, then on to the 1980s.

His selections highlight less well-known figures (including authors Defoe, Marlowe, and Maugham), as well as those well-known people found in other sources on espionage. Informed laypersons, specialists, and some general readers will likely find these well-written capsules informative. There are many citations to additional sources.

Some comments by Roy Berkeley:[1]

Kensington Palace Gardens was once known as Millionaires’ Row, it is now an embassies’ row.

Site 56: 6-7 Kensington Palace Gardens. The disastrous evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 left Britain suddenly blind and deaf on the Continent. Along with their military conquest the Germans had rolled up all British intelligence networks there—those of SIS and those of the parallel Z Organization (which had been set up separately to prevent exactly what happened anyway). How did German counter-intelligence manage all this? By being very diligent, very resourceful, and very lucky.

Once Britain began acquiring prisoners-of-war (downed Luftwaffe aircrews, mostly), they were seen as a rich source of current information. They were screened in this magnificent mansion, which had been commandeered for the war effort and dubbed the “London Cage”. More extensive questioning of officers, and of any enlisted personnel who seemed predisposed to co-operate, took place outside London.

The head of the London Cage, we learn from Richard Deacon’s Spyclopedia, was a Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Scotland who had served in the pre-WWI German Army while cattle-farming in German South-West Africa. The word was put out that he had recently infiltrated the German general staff and knew everything. The bluff worked: he soon did know everything from some very senior German officers.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin may have acted as a mole for the British government against the United States? Or that Mata Hari, certainly one of the most romanticized figures in espionage history, was actually a highly incompetent spy? These and many other pieces of fascinating espionage lore are to be found in Spyclopedia, a highly readable, comprehensive look at all facets of the spy’s world—the personalities, jargon, operations, and organizations.

The book is useful for pre-collapse of the Soviet Union. For modern terms, newer spy encyclopedias are needed. Deacon is an authoritative writer.

Counterintelligence Reading

This is one of many books on the Department of Energy Hanford counterintelligence reading list. The entire list is as follows (with links when appropriate.) The entire list is found at Historical Dictionary of Cold War Counterintelligence

Spy Encyclopedias

Deacon, Richard (1987). Spyclopedia: The Comprehensive Handbook of Espionage

Kessler, Pamela (1992). Undercover Washington: Touring The Sites Where Famous Spies Lived, Worked, And Loved

Laffin, John (1996). Brassey’s Book of Espionage. Brassey’s

Lloyd, Mark (1994). The Guinness Book of Espionage. New York: Da Capo Press

Nash, Jay Robert (1997). Spies: A Narrative Encyclopedia of Dirty Deeds and Double Dealing From Biblical Times to Today

Polmar, Norman (1997, 2004), and Thomas B. Allen, foreword by Nigel West. Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage

Rafalko, Frank J. (2004), ed. A Counterintelligence Reader: American Revolution to World War II, Volume I

Richelson, Jeffrey T. (1995). A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century

Volkman, Ernest (1994). Spies: The Secret Agents Who Changed the Course of History

Volkman, Ernest (1995). Espionage: The Greatest Spy Operations of the Twentieth Century

[1] See Berkeley, Roy (1994). A Spy’s London. London: Leo Cooper, pp. 137-138


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One Response to Spyclopedia

  1. Pingback: Historical Dictionary of Cold War Counterintelligence | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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