Espionage Establishment

Title:                  The Espionage Establishment

Author:                 David Wise

Wise, David (1968) and T. B. Ross. The Espionage Establishment. London: Cape

LCCN:    72453036

UB270 .W56 1968


Date Updated:  August 31, 2016

These authors’ first book was The U-2 Affair in (1962), their second was the comprehensive and critical Invisible Government in 1964, and this was the third and last these co-authors. It deals primarily with spying and between the intelligence services of the USSR, China, Britain, and the U.S. While the preceding book dealt with more with U.S. interventions in the Third World, this one is concerned with tradecraft and counter- intelligence, “illegals” and surveillance.

With all of the literature about the CIA over the past two decades, it is easy to forget that for the first half of the Agency’s history, almost nothing was in the public domain. Washington journalist David Wise changed all of that with The Invisible Government in 1964. CIA director John McCone called in Wise and co-author Thomas Ross to demand deletions on the basis of galleys the CIA had secretly obtained. When that didn’t work, the CIA formed a special group to deal with the book and tried to secure bad reviews, even though the CIA’s legal counsel had found the book “uncannily accurate.” As the unofficial dean of intelligence journalists, Wise is still working on future books from his Washington office.

The author of this book is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and this book is listed on the Association’s website.

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

The authors, journalists with an interest in intelligence and espionage, declared this was written to present a portrait of international espionage as it then existed; it was not to be an encyclopedia of spying. They were a bit too ambitious. They never really cover the intelligence community of the United States, touching only on CIA with other agencies hardly mentioned (for example, NSA) or brought in peripherally in connection with an espionage case. Sections describing certain of the intelligence organizations of the Soviet Union and Great Britain are marked by some good material; there are two good chapters on Soviet illegal operations in the United States. The authors’ analysis of the authenticity of the Penkovsky papers is fair, balanced, and quite discerning for its time. The DIS Bibliography [see below] thought the section on CIA weak though “not as error-ridden” as a previous study by these authors. One major mistake they made was to equate the sizes in manpower of CIA and the KGB, even with the latter’s border guards excluded. The weakest portion deals with the People’s Republic of China; here the authors must rely largely on guesswork about that country’s clandestine collection activities abroad, although material is available on Chinese political action under Mao. Source notes, except for occasional items, are absent, and a bibliography would have been useful. There will be inevitable differences with the authors’ view on the extent of the threat of “secret power” to open societies and with the advocacy journalism practiced; what cannot be denied is that much of their attitude in calling for intelligence oversight and control later became the prevailing mood in the United States. Farago’s opinion that this was the “definitive book” on the subject was both excessive and wrong.

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[2]

Discusses espionage systems of U.S., Great Britain, USSR, and China. The section on the CIA is weak, however, the chapter on the British intelligence services reveals considerably more than had been previously published. Comments on the Chinese intelligence services and activities are of little or no value.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[3]

See “Great Britain” in this book, pp. 78-131. It is a popular journalistic account by the authors of The Invisible Government[4]. Concentrates on a number of security and espionage scandals of the 1960s.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[5]

Informative sketches of the espionage systems of the United States, Great Britain, Russia, and Communist China, by the authors of The Invisible Government[6] and The U-2 Affair[7]. In a final chapter the authors .argue: “The Soviet Union and Communist China have on active espionage apparatus. Under the circumstances, the United States needs its intelligence machinery. But it can stop treating it as something sacrosanct, separate and apart from the normal constitutional processes of congressional and executive control. If the American vision is to be sustained, the American people must guard against the easy rationalization that anything can be excused in defense of the American Way of Life.”

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 494-495

[2] Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature: A Critical And Annotated Bibliography of Open-Source Literature (7th ed, rev.). Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence School, p. 73

[3] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p.

[4] Wise, David (1964) and Thomas B. Ross. The Invisible Government. New York: Random House

[5] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 142

[6] Wise, David (1964) and Thomas B. Ross. The Invisible Government. New York: Random House

[7] Wise, David (1960), and Thomas B. Ross. The U-2 Affair. New York: Random House


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4 Responses to Espionage Establishment

  1. Pingback: Cassidy’s Run | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: The Craft We Chose | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  3. Pingback: Merchants of Treason | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  4. Pingback: Penkovsky Papers | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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