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"Given the recent complications in intelligence-gathering and interpretation, perhaps some in that discipline should take time for a review of how the professionals do it, at least on a soundstage or in paperback. Britton examines the genres within the genres, especially those that rose and fell in response to the events of the time, beginning with such classics as foundational The 39 Steps and the loss of innocence in Maugham, Ambler and Greene. He describes the prelude to the Cold War in the personae of spy heroes on the radio and print and the influence of McCarthyism on television spies, works through the rich pickings of the Reagan years and the influx of action and explosions in recent techno-thrillers. In his conclusion, Britton describes what 9/11 has wrought in the genre, and why even the most casual viewers and readers are paying more attention."
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