Title: The Dark Game: True Spy Stories
Author: Paul Janeczko
Audience: 16 years of age and up.
The Dark Game is a non-fictional collection of the history of spies and covert intelligence in the United States. From the days of George Washington to the recent discoveries of moles in our intelligence community like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, this book covers a surprising amount of events.
While this book only delivers the pertinent information for each historical character, it is still very informative and makes the reader want to learn much more about the person and subject. I am very interested in the history of intelligence gathering and there was a great deal of information in this book that I had never heard of before. For instance, I did not know that Benedict Arnold had been passed over for promotion numerous times and blamed for events that were not his fault before he even thought of turning traitor. I also did not know one of our most effective spies during WWII was a woman with one leg who had trekked across the French mountains in order to escape capture by the Nazi’s who hunted her relentlessly.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of intelligence, spying, or warfare. This would be a good book to use in the class as it is not too crammed with information but gives the reader a solid handle on each different historical situation and would evoke a good amount of discussion.
Deception is one of the major themes illustrated in this book. Though it is nonfiction, the intelligence business focuses heavily on deception and lies in order to stay one step ahead of their enemies. The great Sun Tzu once said, “All warfare is based on deception,” and that, “truth is always the first casualty of war.” This could not be more accurate. After reading this book it is clear that without lying and providing false information our intelligence apparatus would be in a world of hurt. One example of how effective a lie can be in warfare is the Allied invasion of Africa during WWII. A lone Nazi intelligence agent who secretly worked for the Allies developed a plan for the Nazi’s to pull a large amount of the their troops out of Africa and send them to Europe. How? He provided fake information from fake contacts to his Nazi handlers showing them that the Allies would first land at Europe and then work their way down to Africa. Through this deception, the Allies were able to take Africa and then move on to Europe.
Bravery is another theme or quality of an effective intelligence officer. Having the nerve to operate behind enemy lines. They constantly faced the threat of being captured, tortured, and killed every second of every day. Nevertheless, they continued to serve their country and do everything they could to combat their enemies. One female spy during the civil war, her name was never known because she was only given a number, was compromised and then executed. However, she never gave up any information and her valuable informant network continued to supply valuable intelligence throughout the war.
While this is a work of nonfiction, it is difficult to find connections that the reader can relate to unless they have served in the intelligence field before. The few that I can identify are loving your country and wanting to defend it from foreign oppressors. With a war currently going on these are all feelings that we can relate to.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! As I have mentioned, I love to learn about the history of intelligence gathering. This book would be a great tool for a history course. If you have any interest in the intelligence community, military history, warfare history, or even the history of the United States then you should read this book.
Karen Ball thought the book was an insightful read. “Exciting storytelling with rich detail, historical photos and images of spy-related primary source documents make this a fascinating trip through many secretive events and people in our history.”
The staff at the Provo City Library also enjoyed the book and found if very informative and easy to read. “This is a quick and easy way to get into the history of spying in America. I breezed through this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.”