Monday, January 8, 2024

Spies: The Epic Intelligence War Between East and West (Calder Walton)

Espionage is not solely the stuff of James Bond movies. People like Aldirch Ames, Robert Hanssen, and Harold “Kim” Philby have all served the Soviet Union or Russia with information while working for Western intelligence agencies. There’s a long, dubious, and tumultuous history of espionage between the West and Russia that goes back over 100 years. Calder Walton captures this history in Spies: The Epic Intelligence War Between East and West.

Spies is a detailed, well-researched history of Russia, America, and British intelligence since World War I, with much of its attention paid to the Cold War era through the present day. Russian meddling in Western affairs is nothing recent or new, Walton argues, pointing to various attempts by Russian-influenced groups to run interference on Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980’s. Unlike then, however, Russia’s attempts are more brazen and direct, using new methodologies in an attempt to control minds. Walton also dedicates some of his book to discussing China’s increasing use of spies and espionage in Western politics over the past decade and how China is likely going to be the biggest challenge to the West in the coming decade.

Spies is a thorough history of West vs. Russia espionage and how it has evolved over the decades and become more sophisticated and subtle. Walton provides practical arguments and lessons for the coming decades and how trusting and funding the intelligence movement is helpful for promoting democratic ideals and countering those who wish to undermine the West.