The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception

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A once top-secret manual for training CIA field agents in deception and sleight-of-hand techniques had been thought lost forever--until a single copy was discovered in the agency's archives and published.

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Apr 1, 2010

For Spooks and Magicians

Minus an introduction and conclusion by the authors, this book is mostly a reprint of two manuals written for the CIA by professional magician John Mulholland about misdirection and covert (but visible) communications.

Arthur Clark pointed out that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, but the corollary to this is that when sleight of hand is sufficiently perfected, it will appear as if nothing occurred.

That is what this manual was about.

Those who have never been trained in tradecraft might find it interesting, but more than likely will find it boring. Those who are trained in sleight of hand may also find it interesting, but the manual contains nothing new. For the few of us who have training in both subjects, this is a wonderful historical document.

The first section on sleight of hand covers all of the basics and even a couple of advanced moves. The manual on covert communication gives instruction on clandestine signals, many of which are still in use today.

My only caveat is that when reading this manual keep in mind it was written in the early 1950s and does not reflect current practices within the United States Intelligence Community.

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