Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources, chapter 3

Title:                      Encyclopedia Articles

Author:                 Paul W. Blackstock

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

LCCN:    74011567

Z6724.I7 B55


Date Updated:  April 15, 2016

The concept of covert operations is so new that there are no encyclopedia articles on the subject in spite of the fact that the United States and Great Britain developed special agencies (the American Office of Strategic Services and the British Special Operations Executive) to COIT}’ out such operations during World War II.

The first encyclopedia article on espionage appears in Diderot’s classic Encyclopedie (Paris, 1751, V, 971) under the rubric espion. The spy is defined as “a person paid to examine the actions, movements, etc. of another, and especially to discover the state of military affairs.” This brief article also contains the famous observation that “an ambassador is sometimes a distinguished spy who is protected by the law of nations.”

Most encyclopedia articles on either espionage or intelligence reflect the fact that intelligence agencies regard any disclosure of sources or methods as a breach of security. Hence the articles tend to be historical summaries rather than substantive or analytical treatments of either espionage or intelligence. With a few recent exceptions most articles also omit consideration of modern scientific and technological advances such as technical sensors, which have produced important new means of collecting information. Representative articles are annotated be low.

Bol’shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia. 2nd ed. Moscow; 1955. Vol.35, pp. 591-92.[1]

Although the USSR has one of the most formidable combined espionage-intelligence-security police organizations of modern times[2], this edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia had only one article under the heading “intelligence” (разведка, razvedka) which dealt exclusively with military reconnaissance. There was nothing under the rubrics “espionage” or “security services.”

Encyclopedia Americana

Blackstock, Paul W. “Espionage.” International ed. New York, Americana Corp., 1973. Vol. 10, pp. 584-87.

The article discusses and evaluates espionage as one of the means by which intelligence agencies collect information through their clandestine services, and notes the relative decline of its importance as new technological means of surveillance have been developed (technical sensors). Summarizes principles and techniques of recruitment, cover, communications, agent handling, and organization of clandestine services.

Hoover, John Edgar. “Espionage and Counterespionage.” New York: Americana Corp., 1965. Vol. 10, pp. 504-6.

The article by the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation begins with a definition of terms, followed by a historical summary of famous espionage cases from ancient times through the post-World War II period. There is a section on the espionage agent and his training, another on techniques, and a final section .on “security end democracy,” which reflects the familiar cold war orientation of the author of Masters of Deceit.[3]

Ransom, Herry Howe. “Intelligence, Strategic.” lnternational ed. New York: Americana Corp., 1973, Vol. 15, pp. 246-48.

This substantive article by the author of The Intelligence Establishment[4] stresses basic definitions and concepts, the intelligence process (collection, evaluation, and dissemination to decision makers), and describes briefly the intelligence organizations of the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.


Don, W.J. [pseud.]. “Espionage.” Chicago: Encyclopoedia Britannica, 1954. Vol. 12, pp. 459-62.

The author is presumably William Joseph Donovan, head of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during World War II. The article is a general survey which discusses the necessity, scope, types of intelligence, and organization, stressing the argument: “It is only when intelligence collection, analysis, evaluation, synthesis and dissemination are in one pierce and under one direction that the optimum value can be obtained.”

Ransom, Harry Howe. “Intelligence end Counterintelligence.” 15th ed. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1974. Vol. 9, pp. 679-86.

The author of this excellent, substantive article also wrote the article on the some subject for the ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA. It discusses definitions, concepts, the intelligence process itself, and describes briefly the intelligence organizations of the great world powers. Brief bibliography included.

Stessin, Lawrence. “Intelligence, Military, Political and Industrial.” Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1972. Vol. .12, pp. 347-50.

The article is for the most port a general historical survey with brief descriptions of the modern intelligence organizations of the United States, the USSR, Great Britain, and France, followed by a section on industrial espionage.


Rowan, Richard Wilmer. “Espionage.” New York: Macmillan, 1931. Vol. 5, pp. 594-96.

This three-page article by a prolific writer and historian in the espionage field is devoted almost entirely to a history of espionage since ancient times, with an added paragraph on industrial espionage and a generalized discussion of countermeasures.


Ransom, Harry Howe . “Intelligence, Political and Military.” New York: Macmillan and the Free Press, 1968. pp. 415-21.

The article is a general survey which stresses definitions, reviews the basic literature, and gives suggestions for further social science research.

Seth, Ronald. Encyclopedia of Espionage. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974. 718 p. Index. British ed. London: New English Library, 1975. 683 p. Bibliography.

A remarkable compilation of information on espionage by a very prolific author on intelligence subject matter and a World War II British agent. Easy to use, the encyclopedia arranges entries by names of spies (the first entry is ex-Soviet agent Colonel Rudolph Abel), intelligence organizations, espionage networks, and well-known espionage incidents. Each entry is followed by bibliographic references for additional reading or research, The author notes that “where no such bibliography is provided, in most cases the information has come only from my notebooks.”

Although this work is billed on the cover of the English edition as “the Spy’s Who’s Who,” its coverage is almost entirely historical. It is useful as a biographical reference and also because it describes various networks and operations such as the Red Orchestra or Gieske’s EnglandspieI. However, there are many curious gaps in the biographical coverage. For example, there are almost three pages on Sir Paul Dukes who directed British espionage in the USSR during the revolutionary period, but nothing at all on Sir Bruce Lockhart, Sidney Reilly, Boris Savinkov, Captain George Hill, and other British agents active during the same period. Moreover, the lack of an index makes the work more suitable for bedside reading than for reference purposes.

[1] The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (GSE) (Russian: Большая советская энциклопедия, or БСЭ Bolshaya sovetskaya entsiklopediya) is one of the largest Russian-language encyclopedias published by the USSR from 1926 to 1990, and again since 2002 (under the name Bolshaya Rossiyskaya entsiklopediya or Great Russian Encyclopedia).

[2] Of course, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the FSB (successor to the KGB) is no less skilled that was the KGB.

[3] Hoover, J. Edgar (1958). Masters of Deceit: The Story Of Communism In America And How to Fight It. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

[4] Ransom, Harry Howe (1970). The Intelligence Establishment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press

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2 Responses to Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources, chapter 3

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

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

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