Do you love a book that depicts the tales of Spies, Crimes, Suspense, and Thrills? If yes, then have you ever wondered what it would be like to dive into the real-life stories of Spies, who present you a tale that is too hard to believe but true? If not, then you should stay tuned to this article.
Featuring a list of 10 best Spy Non-fictions, this article will introduce you to some of the best spy books that should be in your “must-read” list or get included in your bookshelves. Here are some of these books that depict tales that seem fictional, but to much surprise, are utterly trustworthy.
1. The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal by David E. Hoffman
David Hoffman’s The Billion Dollar Spy is unbelievable non-fiction that portrays the true story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal, through the point of view of a Russian Engineer, who worked for the Soviet Union and gave secrets to the United States, to destroy his country’s aviation program, which he was personally involved with.
At the peak of the Cold War, set in the Soviet Union, The Billion Dollar Spy begins with a scene where the CIA’s Moscow station was filling his gas tank; a stranger approached and dropped a secret note into the car. Although the CIA was established for covert operations because of tensions with the Soviet Union, it became difficult to run spy operations within the Soviet Union because of heightened security measures and suspicion. Amidst this time of tension, a man named Adolf Tolkachev approached the CIA, and it was from this time, the U.S began to gather information, but in exchange for high demands (or money to be elaborate). The novel further features some of the most interesting, secretive events that you cannot miss.
2. A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm
A remarkable novel by Vera Atkins that depicts the true picture of her life as one of Britain’s premiere secret agents during World War II. Head of the French Section of the British Special Operations Executive, Vera, shares her experience of getting trained for the special operation and surviving as a spy in Nazi-occupied France.
The novel does not end simply on Vera’s actions as a spy. Rather, it goes on to feature Vera’s dangerous quest for searching twelve of her most cherished women spies who had gone missing in action.
An extraordinary autobiography with events that are hard to imagine, A Life in Secrets will take you through Atkins’s extraordinary life and her singular journey through the chaos of the war and post-war Europe.
3. Agent M by Henry Hemming
Henry Hemming’s Agent M features the “lives and Spies of MI5’s Maxwell Knight”, who will take you on a journey during the era of World War II that you can never forget. Maxwell Knight was perhaps the greatest spymaster in history, and throughout this novel, you come across his work as a fearless secret agent. Agent M not only reveals the story of one of the world’s greatest intelligence operators but also the sacrifices and courage required to confront fascism during a nation’s darkest time.
Drawn from the vast array of original sources, Agent M is a work that you cannot put down at all. With an engaging narration, you would transcend into the world of a spy, on who national safety depended largely.
4. My Silent War: The Autobiography of a Spy by Kim Philby
An autobiography of Kim Philby, My Silent War, revealed Philby’s recruitment in the Secret Intelligence Service in 1940 and shook the world with his most successful missions. Written in 1968, five years after Philby boarded a Soviet freighter in Beirut and fled to Moscow, My Silent War presents the readers with a blend of fact and fiction, part history and part propaganda, and at times devastatingly honest confessions, to be precise, this novel features the story, the experiences of Philby’s recruitment by the Soviet Union and his role as an unrepentant spy.
History’s most successful spy, an exceptional writer, Philby, takes readers deep into his life, and most importantly, his role as a spy, who rose to the head of Soviet counterintelligence and worked as M16’s liaison with the CIA.
5. Hitler’s Spy Chief by Richard Bassett
Hitler’s Spy Chief by Richard Bassett features the tale of Wilhelm Canaris, who was appointed by Hitler to head the Abwehr (the German secret service) eighteen months after the Nazis came to power, and his plot against Hitler to assassinate him. Although Canaris tried many ways to kill Hitler secretly, he was arrested in the wake of July 1944 and was executed by the Nazis in the last week of the war.
The novel records the attempts of Canaris, including the bombing of Hitler’s headquarters and other violent attacks that failed. Hitler’s Spy Chief is the remarkable true story of espionage and intrigue and admiral’s secret work that changed the course of the Second World War.
6. A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre
A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre is a New York Times Bestselling novel featuring the real-life story of Kim Philby, the Cold War’s most infamous spy. Although Philby was a loyal confidant and an unshakeable patriot and a brilliant, charming man, who rose to the head of Britain’s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union, he managed to play the role of a double-agent skillfully. In this novel, you will come across some of the most important people closest to Philby, including his fellow MI6 officer and best friend since childhood, Nicholas Elliot, and the CIA’s head of counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton, who found Philby to be a man worthy of praise because of his intelligence and loyalty. But eventually, Philby’s secret of betraying and working for the Russians the entire time is revealed; he almost got away with all the troubles, but truth cannot be hidden for a long time, isn’t it? Philby is caught, and the world is shaken by the news.
Based on personal papers and never-before-seen British intelligence files, Ben Macintyre’s A Spy among Friends is undoubted one of the greatest spy stories ever told.
7. The Spy’s Bedside Book by Hugh Greene and edited by Graham Greene (1957)
Legendary authors Graham Greene and his brother Hugh Greene bring readers a story that clearly depicts what it takes to become a spy and what the life of a Secret Agent actually is like. Presented with a conglomeration of fiction, memoir, and tricks of the trade straight from the all-time masters of espionage, this book is truly captivating and leads you to the safest ways of discovering the dangerous secrets many spies have died to learn.
For those who are fascinated by spy stories or must have dreamt of becoming one, they won’t surely regret reading The Spy’s Bedside Book.
8. LifeUndercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox
Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA is an instant New York Times Bestseller and features a thrilling tale of Amaryllis Fox, who was fast-tracked into advanced operations training at the age of 22 and was deployed as a spy under non-official cover under the most dangerous missions including infiltrating terrorist networks in remote areas of the Middle East and Asia.
Intimate, exhilarating, and fierce, Life Undercover is the uncompromising story of Amaryllis Fox’s astonishing courage and passion.
9. Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
Agent Zig Zag by Ben Macintyre is undoubtedly one of the most popular books when it comes to “Spy” stories; this novel has also been regarded as “One of the Ten Books of the Year” by Entertainment Weekly and New York Times. Focusing on Eddie Chapman, a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer, he was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced.
The novel records Chapman’s dangerous missions, his working as a double agent, a lone British spy at the heart of the German Secret Service, who won hearts through his treachery and loyalty. Chapman was a traitor and a man of loyalty, a villain and yet a hero, and through this gripping tale, Macintyre presents the tale of loyalty, love, treachery, espionage, and the thin and shifting line between fidelity and betrayal.
10. Soldier Spy by Tom Marcus
The last book of this list, Soldier Spy by Tom Marcus, is a true story of an “MI5 Officer risking his life” in the wake of the 7/7 attacks on London. Tom Marcus was recruited by MI5 and spent five years undercover as part of a covert British Army special operations unit. He offered the Security Service the edge they so desperately needed. Followed by intensive training, Marcus found himself amongst relentless, unimaginable pressure and a never-ending struggle to prevent terrorist atrocities on the streets, foil devastating strikes against the nation’s infrastructure, and keep the country’s secrets safe from foreign spies at any cost.
In this remarkable story of heroism and his first-hand account of dealing with the most dangerous situations, Marcus presents his story of survival amidst challenges he had nothing to do but face. A truly gripping, shocking, and heart-touching tale, Marcus will win all your hearts.
So, here are the top-10 Non-fiction Spy books that should definitely be on your reading list if you are fascinated with reading real-life accounts of people who perceived dangers closely and played an important role in important missions that often involved a Country’s safety.