Detection, deception, defection, infiltration, and all the other gambits of professional spying are represented among these 27 excerpts from true first- and third-person stories. Some are enlightening, some satisfyingly astonishing, but many are peculiarly confounding--for in spite of Mr. Wilkinson's explanatory prologues it's tough to follow accounts picked up in the middle. The episodes are mounted in vague chronological order proceeding from pre-World war I years to post-World War II and the (most dramatic of all) present, offering at least one something for everyone: wartime Sabotage, peacetime espionage, moody reflections, climactic danger, tales, elaborate military maneuvers, a love story (the Stashinskiy case), the ideologically-motivated nuclear spy movement. The presentation is commendably unexploitative, but the commentary is distinctly uncritical--no mention, for example, that (as Irving tells, above) the authorship of the Kim Philby memoirs is suspect, too much unremitting praise for Mr. Allen Dulles at the close. It is a colossal collection, though, of accounts of varied lengths and styles, proving if nothing else that fact can indeed compete with fiction.