Title:                      Spy-Catcher

Author:                  Oreste Pinto

Pinto, Oreste (1952). Spy-Catcher. London: W. Laurie

LCCN:    52034667

UB275 .P5 1952


Date Updated:  January 27, 2017

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

General Eisenhower supposedly called Pinto “the greatest living expert on security,” while another description attached to him was that he was the world’s greatest spy catcher. This is a short handbook on military counterintelligence, with interrogation and interrogation techniques as the centerpieces. Between April 1952 and August 1953 it had six printings. Major U.S. and British reviews lauded it as superior, factual, and objective. Since then Pinto’s reputation has suffered; among the reasons was what he wrote about the Dutch resistance leader Christiaan Lindemans, known as King Kong. Pinto claimed he helped expose Lindemans as the German agent who betrayed the Allied airborne landing at Arnhem (Operation Market Garden). He even went so far as to call the King Kong case the most important spy case in the history of espionage. Until 1981, the evidence was that Pinto’s version of King Kong’s knowledge of Market Garden was wrong. According to Giskes in London Calling North Pole[2], King Kong did not betray Arnhem because he was not in a position to do so. In A Bridge Too Far[3], the author Cornelius Ryan quoted the German General Student to the effect that no one in the German High Command knew of the planned operation. However, Louis de Jong in a 1981 article in Encounter reopened the debate. He believed King Kong betrayed the Arnhem operation but did not verify Pinto’s account of how Pinto discovered Lindemans to be a German agent. Pinto made another categoric pronouncement that is controversial by today’s standards. He believed women were useless as spies or spy catchers. When one thinks of great agents of the war like Marie Fourcade, Lela Karagianni, Christine Granville, Andrée Barrel, and Andrée de Jongh, one must presume that Pinto was not aware of their work. Foot and Langley in Ml 9[4] mention Pinto as chief of the advance Dutch headquarters who sent Langley a warning about King Kong but offered no proof; they also outline why King Kong could not have betrayed the operation. Pincher’s Inside Story[5] tells of Pintos attempts to find the Soviet agents Burgess and Maclean on behalf of a British newspaper and his first conclusion that they were not behind the Iron Curtain. This also detracted from Pintos reputation, though Pincher had considered him “rather small time” to begin with.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[6]

A unique first-hand description of the techniques and methods of counterespionage in real-life action during World War II. Pinto, a native of Holland, began his counterespionage career in World War I serving in Belgium, Holland, France, and Italy. When World War II broke out, he was called to duty in England to screen refugees from the continent to detect attempts to bring German espionage agents into England. He was later transferred to the Dutch counterintelligence mission attached to the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces, and during the Normandy invasion supervised counterintelligence and security of the armies moving through France and Belgium into Holland. In each of nine chapters Pinto uses an actual case on which he worked toillustrate different aspects of successful counterespionage.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 375-376

[2] Giskes, H. J.(1953). London Calling North Pole. London: William Kimber

[3] Ryan, Cornelius (1974). A Bridge Too Far. London : Hamilton [LCCN: 74193686]

[4] Foot, M.R.D. (1980) and Langley, J.M. MI 9 : Escape And Evasion, 1939-1945. Boston : Little, Brown

[5] Pincher, Chapman (1978, 1979). Inside Story: A Documentary of The Pursuit of Power. New York: Stein and Day

[6] 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. 184


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3 Responses to Spy-Catcher

  1. Pingback: Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage And Covert Operations | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: Counterespionage, Chapter 15 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  3. Pingback: Blackstock Selected Bibliography of Fifty Titles | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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