spies

Ghosts and Spies Emerge From London Fog in Kate Atkinson’s ‘Transcription’

Lee Polevoi

Atkinson quickly establishes place, diction, and a credible spirit of wartime and postwar milieus—while rarely getting bogged down in unnecessary exposition. The tone in the early chapters is both keenly literary and vividly cinematic. Confusion arises, however, with a plethora of secondary characters, i.e., the German sympathizers and double agents, some of whom are being “run” by Godfrey Tobey, some by Perry (her boss). The reader might be forgiven for wondering why many of these clandestine members of the Fifth Column talk so openly about “working for Berlin” or “spying for the Gestapo” in the midst of wartime England. 

Numbers Stations, Shortwave Radio, and Their Role in the Intelligence Community

Mary Kinney

Many nights, Spooks turn on their shortwave radios and drift through the frequencies. On any given night, one can hear amateur radio stations broadcasting church sermons, utility traffic for aircrafts – with the right equipment, you can hear/contact the International Space Station. Yet one of the most eerie, mysterious uses of shortwave is that of the numbers stations: stations that feature ominous – sometimes robotic – voices saying seemingly random number patterns.

Ian McEwan’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ Delves into the World of Spies and Anti-Communism

Lee Polevoi

As a storyteller, McEwan has few equals. From the novel’s opening lines—“My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) and almost forty years ago I was sent on a secret mission for the British Security Service”—he draws us into the dreary world of Cold War England, circa 1974,  time of internal social and political upheaval. The story purrs along like a well-oiled machine, as Serena falls in love with Tony Canning, a married professor and much older man. The affair ends badly, though not before Canning has set her on an eventful career path with MI5. 

From ‘Homeland’ to ‘Zero Dark Thirty’: A Look at Women Who Hunt Terrorists

Maggie Hennefeld

While strong female protagonists have been all but invisible in conventional war genre films (Jarhead, Hurt Locker, Black Hawk Down, Restrepo), a new sub-genre has cropped up that puts women at the center of military defense politics. From Alias and Salt to Homeland and the Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty, we have witnessed the emergence of a contemporary screen obsession with watching ass-kicking female CIA agents hunting the world’s most elusive political terrorists. 

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