Flash Points

Themed journeys through our archive.

The Secrets of Modern Espionage

And how spycraft has changed over the centuries.

An entrance gate and an aerial view of Naval Station Key West.
An entrance gate and an aerial view of Naval Station Key West.
An entrance gate and an aerial view of Naval Station Key West. FOREIGN POLICY ILLUSTRATION/GETTY IMAGES/U.S. NAVY

With Season 4 of FP’s podcast I Spy in full swing, we thought it was time to revisit some of our best reads on the art of espionage.

In this collection of stories, we dive into the history of spycraft, from the theft of trade secrets in 500 B.C. to first U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton advocating for stealing European technical knowledge in 18th-century America, and explore how espionage has been revolutionized—and fictionalized—in the modern era.—Chloe Hadavas

The Spycraft Revolution

Changes in technology, politics, and business are all transforming espionage. Intelligence agencies must adapt—or risk irrelevance, Edward Lucas writes.

With Season 4 of FP’s podcast I Spy in full swing, we thought it was time to revisit some of our best reads on the art of espionage.

In this collection of stories, we dive into the history of spycraft, from the theft of trade secrets in 500 B.C. to first U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton advocating for stealing European technical knowledge in 18th-century America, and explore how espionage has been revolutionized—and fictionalized—in the modern era.—Chloe Hadavas


ILLUSTRATION BY DELCAN & COMPANY

The Spycraft Revolution

Changes in technology, politics, and business are all transforming espionage. Intelligence agencies must adapt—or risk irrelevance, Edward Lucas writes.


ILLUSTRATION BY VALERIO PELLEGRINI

The Oldest Game

The very long history of industrial espionage, according to Mara Hvistendahl.


A Navy aerial photo of Naval Air Station Key West’s Fleming Key, left, Sigsbee Park, top, and Trumbo Point Annexes, right.
A Navy aerial photo of Naval Air Station Key West’s Fleming Key, left, Sigsbee Park, top, and Trumbo Point Annexes, right.

A Navy aerial photo of Naval Air Station Key West’s Fleming Key, left, Sigsbee Park, top, and Trumbo Point Annexes, right. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cody R. Babin/U.S. Navy

Were They Lost Students or Inept Spies for China?

Two roommates traveling in Florida found themselves caught in the teeth of espionage fears, Eric Fish writes.


British writer John Le Carre attends a sreeening of "The Night Manager" at the 66th Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin on Feb. 18, 2016.
British writer John Le Carre attends a sreeening of "The Night Manager" at the 66th Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin on Feb. 18, 2016.

British writer John Le Carre attends a sreeening of “The Night Manager” at the 66th Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin on Feb. 18, 2016. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images

What Spies Really Think About John le Carré

The British novelist didn’t just write about the world of intelligence. He changed it forever, Calder Walton and Christopher Andrew write.


The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

How to Take Care of an Ex-Spy

Former intelligence officers need compassion—or they can turn sour, Philip Caruso writes.

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