That Baseball Cap May Do More Than Keep the Sun Off

Cold war enemy spies - the late William Colby (former CIA director) and Oleg Kalugin (former major-general of the KGB) came in from the cold war this past year to collaborate on a computer spy game and write forewords for "The Ultimate Spy Book," by H. Keith Melton (DK Publishing, 176 pp., $29.95).

The two men, both of whom managed and trained spies, say they used many of the tools and techniques shown in this comprehensive collection of spycraft equipment - from the American Civil War to present.

The book displays all sorts of gadgets that spies use, from watches with microphones to a tiny camera that can be hidden in a baseball cap and take pictures through woolen cloth.

Ciphers and decoders are also shown - like the one a Japanese spy used to send messages to Tokyo about the movement of US warships in Hawaii before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. (Americans had broken the code and regularly read diplomatic cable traffic to Japan, but for some unknown reason, never reported these specific messages to Washington.)

The author uses lots of photos to illustrate the development of equipment. The surveillance section, for example, shows bugs in electric plugs, telephone taps, a video camera the size of a postage stamp, the development and use aerial spying from the U-2 plane to current satellite technology, which can record images as small as six inches across from 200 miles above Earth. Two satellite images are also displayed: one the Soviets had of Washington, including CIA headquarters at Langley, Va., and another one the US took of a Soviet aircraft carrier under construction.

The book also shows an array of devices used for concealment (a note hidden in a walnut shell), escape and evasion (a deck of cards with maps inside), and assassination (a lipstick-sized gun and a poison-emitting umbrella).

Mr. Melton peppers his historical look at spycraft with tales of spies who used the methods he writes about - from John Wilkes Booth to Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames. It is a fascinating look at the real things, which most people only read about in spy novels or see in movies.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to That Baseball Cap May Do More Than Keep the Sun Off
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today