Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review: Ultimate Spy by H. Keith Melton

Ultimate Spy is the insider’s guide to the secret world of espionage.
Peek inside the covert world of espionage — its history, high-tech spy gadgets, and aspects of spycraft from surveillance to assassination. This updated edition includes the latest on the revelations from Wikileaks and Edward Snowden and is filled with stunning photographs that show details of equipment such as spycams, bugs, weapons, and drone aircraft.
Ultimate Spy also includes information on what it takes to be a spy: how spies are recruited, the training they receive, and tricks of the trade. A glossary explains abbreviations of important intelligence and security organizations and defines many common terms used in espionage.
From early espionage to the latest high-tech spy equipment, Ultimate Spy belongs on the bookshelf of mystery lovers, tech fans, and anyone who wants to know how modern spycraft works.
About the author: H. Keith Melton is a tradecraft historian and internationally renowned authority on espionage, and a founding board member of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. A portion of his extensive collection of clandestine devices and equipment is on display inside the CIA. Melton is an adjunct professor at the Interagency Training Center, and an advisor to US intelligence agencies.

I've always been fascinated by the world of espionage so this book was right up my alley.

In Ultimate Spy, readers learn about spies throughout history; equipment, weapons and techniques used by spies, and the training they have to undergo to become spies, analysts and the like. The intelligence agencies covered include CIA, KGB, and Mossad, among others.

"Interesting" doesn't even begin to describe this book. This book was very detailed and comprehensive. Short of actually visiting a spy museum or scouring the internet and spending days online, I don't think you'll learn as much about espionage from any other source.

I appreciated the fact that the language used in the book was easy enough to understand and technical terms were kept to a minimum. Whenever technical terms or names of certain spies or organizations were used or mentioned, it would be followed by a page number or you would be referred to the glossary. The glossary, by the way, is very helpful, although I didn't get to use it much as I had an e-ARC.

My favorite parts of the book were the spy profiles (self-explanatory) and the stories of espionage missions all over the world. It's fascinating, but it's definitely not as easy as it looks. Agents need to have nerves of steel to do what they do. Even being an analyst probably isn't all that easy, either.

If you've read other DK titles before, then you'll have an idea about the book's layout. The combination of text, photos and layout variations help keep you from being bored.

The photos here are high-quality, and some even look like file photos. Not classified, of course, but also probably not something you'd see often. I was particularly impressed with the pictures of the equipment and weapons. Majority, if not all of them, were labelled so you'd know its parts. I'm not particularly into how the equipment actually works, so while I looked at the pictures, I wasn't interested enough to read most of the descriptions.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If you enjoy reading spy novels or watching spy films/movies, you should definitely get a copy of this book.

Thanks to Edelweiss and DK Adult for the e-ARC.


  1. It's very comprehensive and informative.
  2. You learn what it takes to be a spy.
  3. The stories about the spies and the espionage missions are very interesting.


  1. The section on equipment can be somewhat boring if you're mostly interested in spy stories than actually becoming a spy.


  1. You've always wanted to be a spy.
  2. You like reading spy novels and watching shows and movies that involve espionage of some sort.
  3. You like learning new things.



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