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Intelligence historian Melton and retired CIA officer Wallace (coauthors ofSpycraft) 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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ISBN-10:  0061725897
ISBN-13:  978-0061725890
Author:  H. Keith Melton
Genre:  Nonfiction
Publisher:  William Morrow
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review by . December 13, 2009
So what does magic and spycraft have in common? Actually, more than I thought. The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception by H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace take the reader back to the 1950's when the CIA was doing everything possible to counter the Soviet threat to the "American way of life." A program codenamed "Mkultra" included some non-conventional ways to match the Soviets when it came to mind control and covert activities. One of those side projects included the study of how magic …
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