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The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception

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Magic or spycraft? In 1953, against the backdrop of the Cold War, the CIA initiated a top-secret program, code-named MKULTRA, to counter Soviet mind-control and interrogation techniques. Realizing that clandestine officers might need to covertly deploy newly developed pills, potions, and powders against the adversary, the CIA hired America's most famous magician, John Mulholland, to write two manuals on sleight of hand and undercover communication techniques.

In 1973, virtually ...

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New York, NY 2009 Hard cover Fair. Glued binding. Paper over boards. 248 p. Contains: Illustrations, black & white.

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Overview

Magic or spycraft? In 1953, against the backdrop of the Cold War, the CIA initiated a top-secret program, code-named MKULTRA, to counter Soviet mind-control and interrogation techniques. Realizing that clandestine officers might need to covertly deploy newly developed pills, potions, and powders against the adversary, the CIA hired America's most famous magician, John Mulholland, to write two manuals on sleight of hand and undercover communication techniques.

In 1973, virtually all documents related to MKULTRA were destroyed. Mulholland's manuals were thought to be among them—until a single surviving copy of each, complete with illustrations, was recently discovered in the agency's archives.

The manuals reprinted in this work represent the only known complete copy of Mulholland's instructions for CIA officers on the magician's art of deception and secret communications.

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Editorial Reviews

Peter Earnest
“An enchanting account of espionage and wizardry at their blackest.”
Tony and Jonna Mendez
“Melton and Wallace have achieved the ultimate mastery of the shadow world where CIA’s smoke and mirrors meet Hollywood’s art of magic, deception and illusion. Like any good stage show, the never-before-disclosed techniques are spellbinding. The history of espionage is expanded by this factual, fascinating account.”
Lance Burton
“A legendary ‘lost’ piece of magic history…It’s James Bond meets Harry Houdini!”
Jeff McBride
“Entrancing! I was amazed to see how the magician’s trade can be twisted to aid in the dark arts of espionage.”
Danny Biederman
“Espionage and magic! A special thrill to read the once-classified CIA magician’s manual.”
Publishers Weekly
Intelligence historian Melton and retired CIA officer Wallace (coauthors of Spycraft) reunite for this unremarkable reproduction of a long-lost cold war–era relic. In 1953, the fledgling CIA hired professional magician John Mulholland to adapt his “techniques of stealth and misdirection” to the craft of espionage. Mulholland produced two illustrated manuals featuring a range of tricks from placing pills into drinks to stealing documents and avoiding detection. The classified manuals were believed to have been destroyed in 1973, but the authors discovered a copy in 2007 among recently declassified CIA archives. The manuals are reproduced along with enhanced illustrations and an extended introduction by Melton and Wallace. Despite the authors' best efforts to promote their discovery of Mulholland's work as a “rare piece of historical evidence” of the CIA's legacy of black arts, the manuals, with their earnest, how-to descriptions of surreptitiously spiking drinks, palming documents and signaling colleagues with a “feather in a hat band” seem more quaintly anachronistic than revealing or sinister. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061725890
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/3/2009
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

H. Keith Melton, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is an intelligence historian and a specialist in clandestine technology and espionage "tradecraft." He is the author of several books, including CIA Special Weapons and Equipment, Clandestine Warfare, and The Ultimate Spy Book.

Robert Wallace retired from the CIA in 2003 with thirty-two years of service as an operations officer and senior executive, including an assignment as director of the Office of Technical Services. Wallace is coauthor, with H. Keith Melton, of Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword John McLaughlin xi

Introduction: The legacy of MKULTRA and the Missing Magic Manuals 1

Some Operational Applications of the Art of Deception 67

I Introduction and General Comments on The Art of Deception 69

II Handling of Tablets 91

III Handling of Powders 112

IV Handling of Liquids 127

V Surreptitious Removal of Objects 144

VI Special Aspects of Deception for Women 165

VII Surreptitious Removal of Objects by Women 183

VIII Working as a Team 191

Recognition Signals 207

Notes 225

Selected Bibliography 245

About the Authors 249

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Customer Reviews

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