Step into the real world of the spy with this detailed and unforgettable tour of the millennia-long history and enduring legacy of espionage and covert operations. While most of us associate this top-secret subject with popular fiction and film, its true story is more fascinating, surprising, and important than you could possibly imagine.
These 24 thrilling lectures survey how world powers have attempted to work in the shadows to gain secret information or subvert enemies behind the scenes. Filled with stories and insights that will change the way you think about world history's most defining events, this course lets you peer inside a subject whose truths most people are unaware of.
Professor Liulevicius introduces you to the inner workings of covert organizations, including the Oprichnina, a feared secret service established by tsar Ivan the Terrible in the 1500s in an effort to cleanse Russia of treasonous activities; the CIA, established in 1947 by President Truman to replace the Office of Secret Services to be in charge of all intelligence collection – and which had an embarrassing early history; and Mossad, Israel's version of the CIA, which won a series of key intelligence victories during the cold war and over terror attacks and hostage crises in the second half of the 20th century.
You'll also meet famous – and infamous – spies, including Sir Francis Walsingham, Mata Hari, and Kim Philby. In this stirring series of lectures, you'll study the psychological motives behind spies, the ethics of cyber warfare and corporate espionage, the question of whether we now live in a surveillance society, and more.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses
This is not deep. But it ultimately poses deep questions. The espionage story across thousands of years is very well told and themes are well outlined: why spying is undertaken, who does it, what motivates the spies, the role of technology, the influence of espionage in literature and how all this has changed spying and several more threads.
As for the deeper questions, essentially that is about the role of surveillance and secrecy in democratic society. And we are given no answer beyond our collective vigilance.
I really enjoyed this course.
"depends what you're after"
the second half of the book, dealing with the twentieth century is a clear and interesting overview
Yes, this one book is likely not much of an indicator of what the others are like given they feature other speakers on other topics
listenable and engaging but not nuanced
the first half of the book was too superficial and remote. Insufficient context was established to give the brief key stories much meaningfulness and there was little to no reflection; no sooner have you started to care about the story he's telling than he's moved on from it. granted this is an overview but it's just too skirting in its approach. if time is such a restriction the lecturer really needs to let certain stories go in order to more fully flesh out others.
the second half doesn't employ a substantially different approach but there's a continuity and proximity of context that makes it substantially more satisfying.
"Entertaining and informative"
This book is much better that Michael Warner's recent "The rise and fall of intelligence." He starts each lecture with a clear premise--"now we are going to discuss signals intelligence in WWI" and gives clear, complete examples.
The text is not technical, but he still manages to convey how technology and politics interact with the espionage community.
It is a concise and entertaining survey of espionage.
"Perhaps too broad a topic for this format?"
I would. It covers so much that you are bound to find something that interests you.
No. This is the only topic i saw that interested me personally and the way it was covered left a lot to be desired. But there's so much touched on here so its probably impossible to feel satisfied with whats given without it being a million hours long.
Excellent. Enthusiastic without being forced or ridiculous. Engaged without sounding bias.
Research. Lots and lots of research.
The amount of detail and information is astounding yet disappointing. The scope is so wide that it is impossible to cover any instance with any intimacy. It got better the more modern it got (obviously because we have better record) but i still felt like i was was being hurried through a museum with just enough time to read the placards once before being pushed along. I do appreciate how much is mentioned.
NOTE: Toward the end he does some what spoil Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy , The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Casino Royale, Hunt For Red October (i think) and a few others which escape me now. You get plenty of warning for most of them. But they are there.
"Learn About the History of Spying."
You Won't Believe
Very good overview of the history of spying and covert operations from ancient times to the modern era. Not nearly long or detailed enough to do the subject justice, however. The course teacher is superb--really, really talented at presenting the topic--not a minute of boredom here.
History of covert operations in the 19th Century was fascinating.
When the spies caught caught and killed--it happens more often than we imagine.
There is a need for more objective reviews of this topic in the literature and fewer "gee-whiz" types books (a la Clancy). This is towards the Le Carre style and the lecturer has great understanding of his topic.
"The World's Most Versatile Profession"
The joke is that prostitution is the world's oldest profession, and there's a debate about the second. Is it politics? Ronald Reagan joked at a business conference in Los Angeles on March 2, 1977, that "Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." Is it motherhood, as Erma Bombeck claimed in "Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession" (1983)? Or is it spying - as both Phillip Knightley says in his 1986 book, "The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the 20th Century" - and Professor Vejas
Gabriel Liulevicius in this Great Courses lecture series "Espionage and Covert Operations: A Global History" (2011)?
Whenever spying started, it is the world's most versatile profession. Liulevicius points out that a spy can be anyone. A 13th Century merchant on the Silk Road might be gathering intelligence for Genghis Khan's Mongol Hoards. A highly respected but deeply in debt American Revolutionary War general, feeling slighted by being passed over for promotion, might sell secrets to the British - as Benedict Arnold and his wife did. An arrogant Southern Confederate Army Command might believe the propaganda that Blacks were subhuman and could not pass on military plans to the forces fighting to free them, and speak improvidently in front of a 15 year old black girl serving dinner. A politically idealistic and unrealistic group of young men might agree to spy for the communists, and rise high in a democratic government before being discovered, but after betraying hundreds (Kim Philby and the Cambridge 5). Spies can be soldiers, mothers (Valerie Plame), prostitutes (Mata Hari, arguably), friends and enemies.
Liulevicius does discuss the reasons people become spies - including idealism (Jonathan Pollard, a Naval Intelligence Analyst who spied for Israel); money (Aldrich Ames, CIA, for the USSR/Russia), the desire to "get one over" on people who underestimated him (Robert Hanssen, FBI, also for USSR/Russia).
Liulevicius lectures are fascinating, and emphasize the development of the tools of the profession - the tradecraft - over the last two millennia. He also discusses how tradecraft failures lead to the discovery of spies. Liulevicius doesn't throughly discuss the reasons for the failures, but the situations he mentions appear arise from a combination of hubris, laziness and arrogance of spies themselves and handlers, rather than a lack of technical resources or expertise. That psychology alone warrants another lecture.
Liulevicius does not discuss the morals and ethics of spying, other than to mention the oft repeated maxim that "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail" which is credited to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, who disbanded the OSS (Office of Special Services) at the end of World War II. The OSS was reconstituted in fairly short order as the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).
Liulevicius mentions Pvt Chelsea Manning (formerly PFC Bradley Manning), an intelligence analyst who stole hundreds of classified communications and gave them to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Former NSA (National Security Agency) contractor Edwin Snowden's intelligence leaks didn't become public until 2013, two years after this Great Course was published. Liulevicius didn't argue that Manning was a spy, and I'm sure he'd agree Snowden wasn't one either. Both men used brute force spy techniques (they were present with the intelligence and copied it), but neither were employed by any outside entity when they acquired the intelligence. Both sold the information to the "highest bidder", although the goal wasn't money for either man. It was an expression of moral belief, a desire fame, or both.
In light of these recent revelations, it would be great to hear Liulevicius talk about whether the US government's intrusion into the privacy of its citizens - its spying - is a reflection of paranoid politicians, an insular society, or just business as usual - made unusually transparent. Perhaps an updated course, Audible/Great Courses?
This is a good course, but like all Audible versions of Great Courses, there's no accompanying course material. I'm fine with that - I wouldn't have read a book along with it anyway. A true Table of Contents would have been nice, and that's available at the Great Courses website.
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"An Edge Of Your Seat Thriller!"
Espionage and Covert Operations is unquestionably one of the best courses I've ever taken! If you want to see what espionage is beyond the Bond films and popular TV shows like Alias and The Americans, this course is for you! The professor has a really passion for his subject that shows, leading to conclusions that the listener will draw about the content that might otherwise not have resulted from a boring lecturer.
These are 12 hours of your life you will be glad spending!
"Interesting & well researched history."
Among the most interesting audiobook I've listened to so far.
The true story & details about the Trojan Horse.
His narration gives life to the story.
I found the narration to be well performed and gave emphasis where needed.
"A good overview"
Although I enjoyed this course and I'm a big fan of the author, I was hoping for some more detail rather than a general overview to cover a large number of examples over the period.
The length, detail and subject matter.
Very enthusiastic and great pronunciation.
An excellent course and highly recommended.
"Detailed and engaging"
I enjoyed listening to this course about espionage. It served almost as a history lesson and covered topics from ancient times to modern days. It would be an enjoyable listen for anyone who appreciates world history. It is not a lesson on how to be a spy.
"Good General History"
This is an interesting series of lectures, all of a half hour in length, which I listened to in a period of four days. I have always been fascinated by spying and espionage and bought these by the title. I enjoyed them, although I would have preferred more detail of the several case histories, they provide a good general overview of the subject if you have no prior knowledge of the subject.
"Good start point"
The lectures were given in a rather entertaining form, with a lot of information references. So I got the general story about the topic, also got several references to check afterwards if I want. I can't say it's comprehensive but definitely a good start.
Multiple books recommendation for further reading. Very entertaining.
The in fact male spy managed to convince a male French diplomat that he was a woman. They then had an affair and the spy later told the diplomat he was pregnant...
No. Several lectures were linked more closely than others so maybe listen to them in one sitting.
I feel like the title 'global' is not quite right for the content. It is more like 'western history', for except for some bits about Ninja and 'the Art of War', the Asian part is largely missing. There is far more information about British, Soviet/Russian, American. Sure, they have been the major players in modern history, still, the course is not global enough to justify the title.
"Espionage and Covert Ops Lectures"
suprisingly easy to listen to hearing in mind the subject. a little difficult to start, but otherwise very informative
"Enthralled from start to finish"
Whether you have an historically interest or just enjoy the whole cloak and dagger atmosphere of spies and their organisations, this series of lectures will not disappoint. Find out who came before James Bond and the fact he is a very recent addition to a centuries old tradition.
Not sure there was one moment although some of the later lectures covering the cold war antics were very absorbing.
Haven't listened to any other works by the professor but found him not only very easy to listen to but he also speaks with a real passion and appreciation for his subject.
Couldn't wait for my car journeys so I could press play again.
"Great for anyone interested in spies amd spying!"
If you are looking for an informative, yet entertaining, guide to the historical and more modern origins of spies and spying, look no further. Professor Liulevicius provides a whistle-stop tour of espionage starting with ancient times and ending with around 2010 (the WikiLeaks leaks) but does not include the Snowden revelations. I would love to hear what he has to say about that.
Although not a story in the traditional sense, the links between practise of both the past and present provide a coherent whole in a time-line format. Not everything is covered, but there is sufficient information for anyone researching this subject area, as well as pointers for further research.
The professor's sheer enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the subject area come through with every word. You can be confident that he really knows what he's talking about.
I enjoyed this audio so much that I have ordered other Great Courses by the same professor and I fully expect to enjoy those as much as I have enjoyed this one.
"Nice overview of a hidden history"
Ranging from ancient Egypt to cyberspace, this course certainly covers a huge wealth of history. Perhaps due to it's subject matter, there is not very much in the way of overarching themes, it is more a series of anecdotes and (some) tall tales. I would certainly recommend a listen to pass the time but I don't think anyone with a serious interest in history or espionage will get too much out of it.
Some of the stories are funny, some are fascinating and some are downright depressing - the Stasi were no fun! Certainly I feel I have a much better understanding of how spy organisations work, and hearing stories about assassinations and spying in the news is much more interesting now that I can see the as part of a long history.
I hope they do an updated version with much more about SIGINT and the Snowden revelations as it's such a huge wealth of data that historians will be able to tell us quite a lot. I suppose we'll have to wait a bit for that though!
"Not the best great course"
This was ok, but I felt a bit disappointed because the great courses are normally so good. The performance is fine but the narrative lacked the interesting little details that make a good book.
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