The twisted truth about espionage

The twisted truth about espionage
Novelist Dennis Wheatley also
wrote stories to fool real Nazis.

Sometimes the distinction between real spies and fake spies can get a bit fuzzy – especially when they borrow from each other:

In James Grady’s novel Six Days of the Condor (which became the Robert Redford movie Three Days of the Condor) Ronald Malcolm, Redford’s character, works for the CIA. His job is to read spy novels. He looks for any tricks in spy fiction that the CIA could use, and he tries to spot whether the writers, might, in fact, know somethingare they perhaps revealing tactics that some espionage service actually employs?

Grady made this job up; he wanted to show a complete nerd morphing into a man of action. Reading books all day seemed like the nerdiest possible CIA job.

Grady was unaware until many years later that his idea had taken life. Sergei Tretyakov, a former KGB intelligence chief in Manhattan, defected to the U.S. in 2000, and eventually collaborated with writer Pete Early on a book, Comrade J. One of Tretyakov’s first KGB jobs, he said in the book, was rooting through the Western press at a new analysis unit in Moscow called the Scientific Research Unit of Intelligence Problems. It was founded because several KGB generals saw Condor and decided the CIA was putting more effort into analysis than the KGB was.

They didn’t realize that Malcolm’s office didn’t actually exist. "They wanted to glean good ideas and figured their opponent the CIA was doing it, so they had to do it too," Grady said. "It was literally the era of move and countermove."

Here is an example of real espionage imitating spy fiction about real espionage getting clues from spy fiction that might have been written about real espionage.

Read more about novelist Dennis Wheatley, and how his novelist’s mind was enlisted by Britain to invent stories against Hitler: The Novelist Who Spied: How Dennis Wheatley Helped Defeat the Nazis, The Daily Beast>>

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