The Literary Spy: The Ultimate Source for Quotations on Espionage & Intelligence

The Literary Spy: The Ultimate Source for Quotations on Espionage & Intelligence

by Charles E. Lathrop


Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


The Literary Spy provides a unique view of the intelligence world through the words of its own major figures (and those fascinated with them) from ancient times to the present. CIA speechwriter and analyst Charles E. Lathrop has compiled and annotated more than 3,000 quotations from such disparate sources as the Bible, spy novels and movies, Shakespeare’s plays, declassified CIA documents, memoirs, TV talk shows, and speeches from U.S. and foreign leaders and officials.
Arranged in thematic categories with opening commentary for each section, the quotations speak for themselves. Together they serve both to illuminate a world famous for its secrets and deceptions and to show the extent to which intelligence has manifested itself in literature and in life. Engaging, informative, and often irreverent, The Literary Spy is an exceedingly satisfying book—one that meets the needs of the serious researcher just as ably as those of the armchair spy in pursuit of an evening’s entertainment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300203882
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 07/23/2013
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 730,564
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Charles E. Lathrop, a former U.S. military officer, has served in the CIA as an analyst, a speechwriter for the Director of Central Intelligence, a CIA spokesman and lecturer, an editor for the President’s Daily Brief, and a manager of intelligence analysis. He writes under a pseudonym.

Read an Excerpt


The Ultimate Source for Quotations on Espionage & Intelligence

Yale University Press

Copyright © 2004 Yale University
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-300-10324-3

Chapter One


Academia Analysis & Analysts Assassination


The Literary Spy knows that a country's intelligence services are never any better than that country's educational system. Not only are its spymasters and intelligence analysts recruited from the best schools, but the spooks often seek out academic experts to shed light on murky international developments. In a democracy, of course, academics have the right to shun contact with the same intelligence services that serve and protect that democracy, proving that advanced degrees are no guarantee of clear thinking.

See also: Analysis & Analysts; Collection; Intelligence & American Culture

"Some of the academics who were to accompany [Napoleon's] expedition [to Egypt in 1798] began to boast, a notorious failing of clever men leading unimportant lives.... Had Bonaparte known of their stream of leaks he certainly must have regretted the decision to encumber the expedition with so many professional talkers."

JOHN KEEGAN on the "gossipy academic world" that helped inform London about the destination ofNapoleonic forces in Intelligence in War (2003).

"Libraries have a much more important role to play than they have played in the past in buttressing spot intelligence with the scholarly element."

ARCHIBALD MacLEISH, Librarian of Congress, letter to William Donovan, 29 June 1941; quoted in Troy, Donovan and the CIA (1981). Donovan, then Coordinator of Information-the predecessor of OSS-called on MacLeish to help find scholars to conduct intelligence research and analysis.

"Donovan ... organized the government's first systemic utilization, in peace or war, of the knowledge, language capability, and area experience of the country's historians, economists, social scientists, anthropologists, geographers, and psychologists."

THOMAS TROY, Donovan and the CIA (1981).

"At the same historical moment that General Groves and Professor Oppenheimer were recruiting the world's most eminent scientists to the Manhattan project, General William J. Donovan and Professor William L. Langer were conscripting the leading thinkers in a dozen scholarly disciplines into the Office of Strategic Services.... The erudite scholars of [OSS] did not paddle ashore in rubber dinghies or drop from the sky into enemy territory.

... In the last analysis, however, it was they more than their operational colleagues who laid the foundations of modern intelligence work.... One of the earliest achievements of this first generation of American intelligence analysts was to demonstrate that it was possible to secure the greater part of this vital intelligence not by dropping behind enemy lines but by walking over to the Library of Congress, where they did what scholars do best, namely, plodding through journals, monographs, foreign newspapers, and other published sources."

BARRY KATZ, Foreign Intelligence: Research and Analysis in OSS (1989).

"General William Donovan used to say that intelligence is no more mysterious than McGuffey's Second Reader and just about as sinister. He meant that the world's libraries are filled with interesting information, and that scholarly research alone can produce much good intelligence. If scholars also have access to the data provided by espionage and reconnaissance, little of importance can be hid from them. Hence, thought Donovan, the primary tool of intelligence is the index card."

ANGELO CODEVILLA, Informing Statecraft (1992).

"In such an environment [i.e., in a university] one might reasonably expect to find a number of people, students, faculty, alumni, and staff, who have a wide-ranging curiosity, a somewhat child-like desire to collect experiences and to see places, to know because knowing in itself is fun: that is, a number of people ideally suited for the rather unconventional life of an intelligence service, and in particular, of the Office of Strategic Services in World War II."

ROBIN W. WINKS on the close association that universities like Yale have had with American intelligence, beginning with OSS, in Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961 (1987).

"It is a curious fact of academic history that the first great center of area studies in the United States was not located in any university, but in Washington, during the Second World War, in the Office of Strategic Services. In very large measure the area study programs developed in American universities in the years after the war were manned, directed, or stimulated by graduates of the OSS -a remarkable institution, half cops and robbers and half faculty meeting."

McGEORGE BUNDY in 1964; quoted in Cline, Secrets, Spies and Scholars (1976).

"[OSS Research and Analysis] caused, in a sense, the reorganization of knowledge, promoted area studies, and was one of the reasons why American scholarship, which in the humanities and social sciences might have been thought to be behind that of Europe when the war began, emerged in the 1950s ... as predominant on the world scene."

ROBIN W. WINKS, Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961 (1987).

"There is nothing at all discreditable or dishonorable in the projected activities [of] American academic personnel who collect intelligence in the course of their legitimate research in a foreign country.... Such intelligence work can be done by American academic persons with a completely clear conscience."

Report of the Committee on Relations between Government Intelligence and Research Work and the American Universities, 1945; cited in Winks, Cloak and Gown (1987). This committee was formed by OSS analysis chief and Harvard history professor William Langer.

"The academic is all too apt to lack elasticity. He is generally an individualist, and when he thinks he is right he is all too prone to be impatient with the difficulties.... A real weakness of [OSS analysis] was undoubtedly the fact that it was of necessity so largely academic."

CIA National Estimates chief-and Harvard history professor-WILLIAM LANGER to Kermit Roosevelt, 5 March 1947; quoted in Katz, Foreign Intelligence (1989).

"The CIA research and analysis shops deserve a great deal of credit for realizing from the first that a symbiotic relationship exists between the scholars in government intelligence agencies and scholars elsewhere. This respect for scholarship is one of the main distinguishing features that has given CIA a marked superiority in intellectual quality over the Soviet KGB and other totalitarian intelligence services."

Former DDI RAY CLINE, Secrets, Spies and Scholars (1976).

"By 1948-49 CIA personnel came from seventy-seven different colleges and universities. There was, as yet, no public talk about 'invisible government,' no thought that a professor who acted as a contact point might be engaged in conflict of interest. The urgencies of the wartime campus simply extended, with hardly the hiatus of 1946, into the cold war and, at most universities, through the war in Korea, not to be questioned until the early 1960s."

ROBIN W. WINKS, Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961 (1987).

"Academic training leads you to look at the facts, to weigh the facts."

OSS and CIA veteran HARRY ROSITZKE in 1981; quoted in the Washington Post, 7 November 2002. Rositzke was a Harvard Ph.D. in philology who ran operations against the USSR.

"Academics who answered the CIA's call [in the 1950s] did so out of a patriotic desire to serve their country and out of a self-interested desire to obtain privileged, top-class information unavailable to them in the normal course of their university work."

JOHN RANELAGH, The Agency (1986).

"While CIA has experts in virtually all subjects of concern, there is a vast reservoir of expertise, experience, and insight in the community of university scholars that can help us, and through us, the American government, better understand problems and their implications for us and for international stability."

DDI ROBERT GATES, address at Harvard University, 13 February 1986; in Studies in Intelligence (summer 1986).

"One of the important differences between academe and the intelligence community [is that] in most universities one has the right to be wrong. Universities are built upon making mistakes; there could be no valid research were there not hundreds of feints, aborted projects, invalid conclusions. And one must not be punished, or intimidated, for mistakes honestly made. No government bureaucracy could hold to such a principle."

ROBIN W. WINKS, Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961 (1987).

"Another emergent heresy is that CIA analysts are influenced by academics and academic thinking to the detriment of realistic analysis. I am reminded of one venture we launched in the late 1960s to tap the knowledge and judgment of the best scholars of Chinese affairs.... The scholars were brilliantly knowledgeable of Chinese history, culture, and social structure, but they were as innocent as babes about current conditions, be they political, economic, or military. It invariably took the CIA Chinese experts at least a full day to bring the academic experts up to speed.... Most CIA analysts found academic people too inadequately informed about current developments to have much impact on their judgment."

Former DDI R. JACK SMITH, The Unknown CIA (1989).

"Intelligence analysts must provide answers in a timely fashion. Their work is useless unless it reaches policymakers before they have been forced by circumstances to act. Academic authors, by contrast, generally have the luxury of taking as much time as they feel is necessary to reach a conclusion. Similarly, academics typically work alone and on subjects of their own choice; intelligence analysts, meanwhile, are largely guided in their choice of topics by the requirements of others, and their work must be coordinated with others before it is completed."

ABRAM SHULSKY, Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence (1993).

"If the United States is going to have markedly better intelligence in parts of the world where few Americans have lived, studied, or understood local mores and aspirations, it is going to have to overcome a cultural disease: thinking that American primacy makes it unnecessary for American education to foster broad and deep expertise on foreign, especially non-Western, societies. The United States is perhaps the only major country in the world where one can be considered well educated yet speak only the native tongue."

RICHARD K. BETTS, "Fixing Intelligence," Foreign Affairs (January-February 2002).


The primary job of intelligence is not, as one DCI put it, "to steal secrets" but rather to make sense of the secrets that intelligence does steal. Producing informed and timely analysis for the nation's leadership, the Literary Spy would argue, is the central reason intelligence agencies exist. It's the one major intelligence function that is an end in itself; all the others-collection, covert action, and counterintelligence-are means to this or other ends. Yet no one makes movies about intelligence analysis and analysts: it would be like watching paint dry.

See also: Academia; Collection; Espionage & Spies; Subcultures in CIA

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."

Ecclesiastes, 1:18 (King James).

"When you know a thing, to hold that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it: this is knowledge."

Attributed to Confucius (c. 551-479 B.C.).

"I am wiser to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know."

PLATO (427?-347? B.C.), The Defense of Socrates.

"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties."

FRANCIS BACON, The Advancement of Learning (1605).

"The secret of being a bore is to tell everything."

VOLTAIRE, Sept Discours en Vers sur l'Homme (1738).

"Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."

SAMUEL JOHNSON, 1775, in Boswell's Life of Johnson (1791).

"Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective positions of the beings that compose it, if moreover this intelligence were vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in the same formula both the movements of the largest bodies in the universe and those of the lightest atom; to it nothing would be uncertain, and the future as the past would be present to its eyes."

French mathematician and astronomer PIERRE SIMON DE LAPLACE, Théorie Analytique des Probabilités (1820).

"It is by comparing a variety of information, we are frequently enabled to investigate facts, which were so intricate or hidden, that no single clue could have led to the knowledge of them.... In this point of view, intelligence becomes interesting which but from its connection and collateral circumstances, would not be important."

GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1782; cited in Andrew, For the President's Eyes Only (1995).

"[Union General George] McClellan in mid-January [1862] found a couple of assistants who today would be called intelligence analysts ... two young French aides-de-camp, Louis Philippe d'Orleans and his brother, Robert. Louis Philippe was the comte de Paris and pretender to the throne; Robert was the duc de Chartres.... This was doubtless the first time in the Civil War, and conceivably in any American war up to that time, that anyone was assigned analysis of intelligence as a full-time or principal duty; and the men McClellan found for that sensitive position, which today would require a security clearance not easily obtained, could not even take the oath of allegiance to the flag they were serving."

EDWIN FISHEL, Secret War for the Union (1996).

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement."

Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Watson in Sir ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, A Study in Scarlet (1887). Unfortunately, in intelligence work you never have all the evidence-but you're still expected to theorize without bias.

"We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture, and hypothesis. The difficulty is to detach the framework of fact-of absolute, undeniable fact-from the embellishments of theorists and reporters. Then, having established ourselves upon this sound basis, it is our duty to see what inferences may be drawn, and which are the special points upon which the whole mystery turns."

Sherlock Holmes in Sir ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, "The Adventure of Silver Blaze" (1892). Here Holmes identifies the initial task of intelligence analysis: first determine what you know.


Excerpted from THE LITERARY Spy by CHARLES E. LATHROP Copyright © 2004 by Yale University. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews