The Bluffer’s Guide to Espionage – Phil Kimby

It’s kinda funny when I look back at some of the circumstances on books I possess, and how I viewed them before I read them and after.

My landlord in England had this in his vast collection of books, and I picked it up before I got on the aeroplane to give me something to read. Am I glad I did or what?

To understand ‘The Bluffer’s Guide to Espionage : Bluff Your Way into Espionage’ I think most people would need to be British. This book is full of that dry, sardonic sense of humour that you’d traditionally associate with educated upper classes. Having said that, I love this book! Of course, this was written back when Germany was still split into two nations.

For instance one passage in the first couple of pages in this book talks about international Intelligence service alliances which goes as follows…

In the West, the basic alliances are between:
– the British and the Americans
– the Americans and the Israelis
– the British and the West Germans
– the West Germans and the Israelis
– the French and the French.
The French, unfortunately, are still suffering from the rumour that its DGSE agency effectively went freelance some years ago (and certainly there were times when it showed little sign of working for the French goverment or for France)…

…Overall, there is a general awkwardness felt by other agencies in dealing with the FBI, since so many FBI personnel are:
– accountants
– lawyers
– still reporting to J. Edgar Hoover.’

Phil Kimby has a smashing sense of humour and manages to convey it excellently as he makes fun of all the suppositions on espionage, pointing out various ridiculously funny but true aspects to real life espionage. I think what I liked about this book is that the author writes it in a way so subtle that he expects you to know when he’s being witty without making big punchlines.

Another passage in this book which I find hilarious goes as follows:

‘Bluffers should note that within specific ‘divisions’ of the world espionage league, it is impossible to show an overall champion, except perhaps Israel which remains the top intelligence and security team. Against that, it tends to play against weaker teams more often (i.e. the Arabs), although bluffers should also know that the KGB maintains an entire department targeted specifically against Israel, while the US is lumped together with Canada. (This rather annoys the Canadians, who resent being thought of as another American state. Informed sources suggest that the KGB have agreed to give Canada its own department in exchange for extra cod and salmon quotas for the Soviet fishing fleet.)

Both China and Japan find it a little difficult to spy on Warsaw Pact countries since they tend to stand out in a crowd. As a consequence, they have been forced to spend most of their time spying on:
a) each other
b) Korea
c) each other spying on Korea

In recognition of their own paranoia, the Koreans call their own agency the CIA. The official reason is that the letters KIA, as originally planned, and standing for Korean Intelligence Agency, also stand for Killed in Action.

All emerging nations (never say emerging from what) now see the possession of espionage and counter espionage agencies as being proof positive that they should be allowed the key to the executive washroom at the United Nations.’

I’ll say no more, and allow you to enjoy the book.

‘Buy Bluffer’s Guide to Espionage : Bluff Your Way in Espionage’ by Phil Kimby’

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