If we were to believe the movies, the secret agent lives are all glamorous, with fancy sport cars, super spy gadgets, parties and casinos, and beautiful girls around them. Just remember how James Bond lives, or in the more recent spy movie, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” you can see an American and Soviet agents, who look more like male supermodels than spies. In reality, the life of a spy, or a secret agent if you like, is far from glamorous and fun, and in most times, not even their families really know what they are doing for a living. The real agents are the defenders of their country behind enemy lines, who risk their lives for a piece of valuable information that represents the difference between life or death of millions. The security of a country, before everything else, hugely depends on its secret service, and their ability to provide high quality and reliable information regarding the enemy’s plans.
The golden era or espionage was definitely the period between the two world wars, and the Cold War era, where the whole world was tangled up in the nuclear and space “race”. Just like today, the biggest nuclear and space technology forces were U.S.A., Russia (USSR, then) and UK, and that is exactly why the largest number, and the most famous spies came exactly from these countries. But, even though when we think about spies, we think about the period between the wars, the first spies didn’t actually come from that era. The world got familiar with spies much earlier.
The “art of espionage” is considered to be very old, prehistoric old even. How do you think the “information” about how to light a fire, spread throughout the first form of society? There had to be one member of the tribe that “spied” the neighboring tribe, to learn the secret of how to light a fire, or even what to do with your female after you hit her with a club. As the human society developed, so did the ways of espionage, and today, we probably can’t even imagine how advanced spying is, and what possible (and impossible) ways do modern spies have, to get the information they need. Since we cannot rank spies in a form of a classical list, because there isn’t a way that can tell us who was the best, and who was the worst spy in the history of mankind, we have decided to present you a list where you can find some of the most famous names from the world of espionage. One thing is sure, it wasn’t easy for the pioneers in this line of work, since they had to come up with all the tactics, which are actually used even today. The newer generations of spies can learn from the older generations, but, as we said, the world evolves every day, so do they also write the new pages in the “spy book”, which will be studied by the generations of spies that are still to come, because we have to face it, as long as there are people on earth, there will always be a need for these “shadow warriors”. This is the reason why we have started our list with some of the first spies, and as you read, you will see how this line of work evolved through time.
But, enough about that, we think that it is time that you find out who were the greatest names ever, in the world of espionage. So without further ado, here they are!
1. Alan Pinkerton
Picture source: wikipedia.org
A detective from Scottland, who became famous for being a pioneer in the spy world , and for developing the first spy techniques, which turned out to be the foundation stone for the modern espionage. Alan Pinkerton was the first one who used the technique of keeping an eye on the target, from “shadows”. His undercover operations, which he called “the interpretation of the role,” are used as the example for undercover ops, and studied in the C.I.A. academy even today. Back in 1850, Pinkerton founded the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, and his team pretty soon became highly wanted for “keeping an eye” and capturing important criminals, thanks to their amazing work in uncovering and bringing to justice, some of the most wanted criminals from that period. When the Civil War in America started, Pinkerton became Abraham Lincoln’s advisor and a close associate, as well as in charge of the Union’s Intelligence Service. In 1861, Alan Pinkerton managed to prevent the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by infiltrating his spies in the Confederate army. He was also taking part in some of the Union’s undercover operations, where he was usually in the role of a Confederate officer, and that way he managed to gather valuable information about when and where the enemy army was making moves.