A HANDBOOK FOR SPIES by Wolfgang Lotz

A HANDBOOK FOR SPIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It takes a little while before you're fairly sure that this wee ""manual"" isn't meant as parody (or, if it is, that it doesn't work). After all, what is one to make of a guidebook for would-be secret agents, written in strict self-help style, complete with rate-yourself questionnaires (""Test Your Spying Power""), exercises, and inane words of encouragement? But intentional or not, there are occasional laughs here--because Lotz, former Israeli agent and memoirist (The Champagne Spy, 1972), apparently sees his aspiring-spy readers as a dim crew indeed: when going for a spy-job interview, ""Be neat in your appearance, and don't overdress""; as for phony identity, ""If your cover is that of a simple laborer, you can't drive around in a shining Mercedes""; and ""If you have to be a convict, prison [as opposed to jail or penitentiary] is your best bet."" There are also instructions on tailing, telling lies, and covering your traces--plus warnings about sexual entanglements, double-agent work (short life expectancy), and financial dealings with the ""notoriously stingy"" secret services. True, Lotz textures this a bit with so-so anecdotes of his own spy work; but it remains a not-quite-funny, not-quite-for-real exercise--and when he briskly mentions his wife's death (ill treatment by Egypt's Police) or finally confesses that dire straits drove him to write this book, it's oddly unseemly and sad. Read his juicy memoir instead.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row