Our list of some of the best Espionage books & series in recent years. Get inspired by one or more of the following books.
- The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal (2016)
- The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War (2019)
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: A George Smiley Novel (George Smiley Novels) (2013)
- Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris (2016)
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A George Smiley Novel (2011)
- A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal (2015)
- The Quantum Spy: A Thriller (2018)
- The Spy’s Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia (2016)
- The Unlikely Spy (2003)
- The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames (2015)
- The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War (2019)
- Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools and Operations That Helped Win the Cold War (2003)
- Agent Zero (an Agent Zero Spy Thriller-Book #1) (2019)
It was the height of the Cold War, and a dangerous time to be stationed in the Soviet Union. One evening, while the chief of the CIA’s Moscow station was filling his gas tank, a stranger approached and dropped a note into the car. The chief, suspicious of a KGB trap, ignored the overture. But the man had made up his mind. His attempts to establish contact with the CIA would be rebuffed four times before he thrust upon them an envelope whose contents would stun U.S. intelligence.
“The best true spy story I have ever read.”—JOHN LE CARRÉ If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation’s communism as both criminal and philistine.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: A George Smiley Novel (George Smiley Novels) (2013)
The 50th-anniversary edition of the bestselling novel that launched John le Carré’s career worldwide In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse—a desk job—Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge.
Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris (2016)
The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris’s hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high.
The man he knew as “Control” is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn’t quite ready for retirement—especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence.
Who was Kim Philby? Those closest to him—like his fellow MI6 officer and best friend since childhood, Nicholas Elliot, and the CIA’s head of counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton—knew him as a loyal confidant and an unshakeable patriot. Philby was a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain’s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union.
The Quantum Spy: A Thriller (2018)
“The Quantum Spy takes us to a whole new level of intrigue and espionage. It’s also unbelievably timely. In short: David Ignatius knows his stuff.” ―Wolf BlitzerA hyper-fast quantum computer is the digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb; whoever possesses one will be able to shred any encryption and break any code in existence. The question is: who will build one first, the U.S. or China?In this gripping thriller, U.S.
The Spy’s Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia (2016)
Jim Nicholson earned the nickname “Batman” early in his spy career with the CIA. A talented case officer with a Rolex watch and hand-tailored suits, Jim’s elan and fierce patriotic streak shot him to stardom.
The Unlikely Spy (2003)
“In wartime,” Winston Churchill wrote, “truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” For Britain’s counterintelligence operations, this meant finding the unlikeliest agent imaginable—a history professor named Alfred Vicary, handpicked by Churchill himself to expose a highly dangerous, but unknown, traitor. The Nazis, however, have also chosen an unlikely agent.
The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames (2015)
The Good Spy is Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kai Bird’s compelling portrait of the remarkable life and death of one of the most important operatives in CIA history – a man who, had he lived, might have helped heal the rift between Arabs and the West. On April 18, 1983, a bomb exploded outside the American Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people. The attack was a geopolitical turning point.
INSPIRATION FOR THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE OFFICIAL SECRETSFEATURING A NEW INTRODUCTIONIn January 2003, 28-year-old GCHQ translator Katharine Gun received an email from the US National Security Agency that would turn her world upside down.
Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools and Operations That Helped Win the Cold War (2003)
From the author of the Golden Globe winner and Academy Award winner Argo Moscow, 1988. The twilight of the Cold War. The KGB is at its most ruthless, and has now indisputably gained the upper hand over the CIA in the intelligence war. But no one knows how. Ten CIA agents and double-agents have gone missing in the last three years. They have either been executed or they are unaccounted for.
“You will not sleep until you are finished with AGENT ZERO. The author did a superb job creating a set of characters who are fully developed and very much enjoyable. The description of the action scenes transport us into a reality that is almost like sitting in a movie theater with surround sound and 3D (it would make an incredible Hollywood movie).
Best Espionage Books: The Ultimate List
We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Library Genesis and download some espionage books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.
The Anatomy of a Spy: A History of Espionage and Betrayal
Author(s): Michael Smith
ID: 2455931, Publisher: The History Press, Year: 8 Nov 2019, Size: 571 Kb, Format: epub
Operation Kronstadt: The True Story of Honor, Espionage, and the Rescue of Britain’s Greatest Spy, The Man with a Hundred Faces
Author(s): Harry Ferguson
ID: 2393672, Publisher: ABRAMS Press, Year: 3 Aug 2010, Size: 4 Mb, Format: epub
Spying Through a Glass Darkly: The Ethics of Espionage and Counter-Intelligence
Author(s): Cécile Fabre
ID: 3199217, Publisher: Oxford University Press, Year: 2022, Size: 2 Mb, Format: pdf
Please note that this booklist is not absolute. Some books are absolutely record-breakers according to Chicago Tribune, others are written by unknown writers. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant resources you could recommend? Drop a comment if you have any feedback on the list.