The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception

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Harper Collins, Nov 3, 2009 - History - 272 pages
4 Reviews

Magic or spycraft? In 1953, against the backdrop of the Cold War, the CIA initiated a top-secret program, code-named MKULTRA, to counter Soviet mind-control and interrogation techniques. Realizing that clandestine officers might need to covertly deploy newly developed pills, potions, and powders against the adversary, the CIA hired America's most famous magician, John Mulholland, to write two manuals on sleight of hand and undercover communication techniques.

In 1973, virtually all documents related to MKULTRA were destroyed. Mulholland's manuals were thought to be among them—until a single surviving copy of each, complete with illustrations, was recently discovered in the agency's archives.

The manuals reprinted in this work represent the only known complete copy of Mulholland's instructions for CIA officers on the magician's art of deception and secret communications.


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User Review  - JDR82 - LibraryThing

An interesting book on the intriguing marriage of magic tricks and intelligence operations. Overall, a quick read, but not a book I can rave about. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MrJack - LibraryThing

Question: Are the tricks and deceptions described by John Mulholland in his CIA manual of magic for spies more James Bondesque or Maxwell Smartish? Answer: Definitely the latter. Many of the hocus ... Read full review


The Legacy of MKULTRA and
Handling of Tablets
Handling of Powders
Handling of Liquids
Special Aspects of Deception
Surreptitious Removal of Objects
Working as a Team
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2009)

H. Keith Melton, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is an intelligence historian and a specialist in clandestine technology and espionage "tradecraft." He is the author of several books, including CIA Special Weapons and Equipment, Clandestine Warfare, and The Ultimate Spy Book.

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