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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 covert 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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Intelligence historian Melton and retired CIA officer Wallace (coauthors of Spycraft) reunite for this unremarkable reproduction of a long-lost cold war-era relic. In 1953, the fledgling CIA hired professional magician John Mulholland to adapt his "techniques of stealth and misdirection" to the craft of espionage. Mulholland produced two illustrated manuals featuring a range of tricks from placing pills into drinks to stealing documents and avoiding detection. The classified manuals were believed to have been destroyed in 1973, but the authors discovered a copy in 2007 among recently declassified CIA archives. The manuals are reproduced along with enhanced illustrations and an extended introduction by Melton and Wallace. Despite the authors' best efforts to promote their discovery of Mulholland's work as a "rare piece of historical evidence" of the CIA's legacy of black arts, the manuals, with their earnest, how-to descriptions of surreptitiously spiking drinks, palming documents and signaling colleagues with a "feather in a hat band" seem more quaintly anachronistic than revealing or sinister. (Nov.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Espionage and magic! A special thrill to read the once-classified CIA magician s manual. --Danny Biederman, author of The Incredible World of SPY-Fi"

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