Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century” as Want to Read:
The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  55 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
The spy is as old as history but spy services are quite new. Britain founded the first, Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, in dubious circumstances in 1909. Others followed until no country considered itself a nation unless it had a corps of spies.





The biggest and most expensive is America's Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, formed as recently as 1947. The CIA's
...more
Hardcover, 436 pages
Published January 1st 1987 by W W Norton & Co Inc (first published 1986)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Second Oldest Profession, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Second Oldest Profession

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mark Hamilton
Jun 15, 2013 Mark Hamilton rated it it was amazing
This book, which I read in 2006, was the first step leading me, unwittingly, on the path of classical liberalism. Knightley shows how the 20th century's first government spy agency MI5 began--not to counter security threats--to deal with informants giving information about German spies. Not because those spies existed, mind you, but because all the German spies in the fictional bestseller *Riddle of the Sands* had led many readers to think they saw German spies quite often. The incompetence and ...more
Simon Wood
Sep 21, 2013 Simon Wood rated it it was amazing
KNIGHTLEY'S PEOPLE

Phillip Knightley is a fine journalist who played a key role in the coverage of the Thalidomide scandal, wrote a number of books on subjects as diverse as his home country ("Australia: A Biography of a Nation") and the history of war reporting ("The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth-maker from the Crimea to the Gulf War II"). In this outing he has written "The Second Oldest Profession", a history of spying in the twentieth century.

As ever Kn
...more
Alex Yalen
Jan 26, 2012 Alex Yalen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spooks
I would describe this book as an indispensable part of my expanding intelligence library because it offers a broad look at the history of the professional intelligence service. The main reason I love this book is because it weaves together a global history of the intelligence agency in a way that is fluid and fascinating. I would say it's more broad than deep, but that is not a complaint, merely an observation. This text is chock full of colorful characters and bizarre stories that just leap off ...more
Jeff
Apr 21, 2013 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A decent book, though not exactly what I thought I was buying. I thought I'd be getting something with a bit more low-level Cloak and Dagger spying details, but that's not what this is; it's more of a high level, rivalries among various agencies, budgetary and political issues, etc etc sort of thing.

Near the end it does suffer a bit, as its first writing was in 1986, leaving its final chapter written at that time feeling a bit musty, and the last chapter on 9/11 feels bolted on, which it is.

But
...more
Patrick Lueck
three stars as compared to similar books... a bit dry... but (saving grace..) detailed info about WWI and inter-war years..
Declan Mccann
Declan Mccann rated it it was amazing
Sep 19, 2015
Scott
Scott rated it really liked it
Jan 11, 2013
Ncim
Ncim rated it it was amazing
Oct 14, 2013
William Young
William Young rated it really liked it
Jul 25, 2011
Juhana Siren
Juhana Siren rated it liked it
Feb 17, 2014
John Wimmer
John Wimmer rated it really liked it
Sep 16, 2014
Alexis
Alexis rated it liked it
Jan 03, 2015
Elin
Elin rated it really liked it
Dec 12, 2014
Mike
Mike rated it really liked it
Dec 08, 2014
Capn Midnight
Capn Midnight rated it it was amazing
Jul 05, 2016
Susan
Susan rated it really liked it
Apr 09, 2015
Gonçalo Almeida
Gonçalo Almeida rated it really liked it
Jan 27, 2014
Big Aengus
Big Aengus rated it really liked it
Sep 18, 2012
TJ
TJ rated it really liked it
Oct 07, 2010
David Jennings
Jan 13, 2016 David Jennings rated it liked it
Audio CD
Tjn
Tjn rated it really liked it
Oct 27, 2013
Mr Colin Wood
Mr Colin Wood rated it really liked it
Jan 21, 2016
Xun
Xun rated it liked it
Feb 25, 2008
Karl Øen
Karl Øen rated it really liked it
Mar 16, 2013
Chad
Chad rated it really liked it
Mar 06, 2013
Paul
Paul rated it really liked it
Jun 08, 2011
Carl
Carl rated it liked it
Jan 20, 2016
Harry
Harry rated it liked it
Nov 11, 2012
Geoffrey Hempill
Geoffrey Hempill rated it really liked it
May 25, 2010
Ermalinda Horne
Ermalinda Horne rated it really liked it
Jul 22, 2008
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
31143
Phillip Knightley was a special correspondent for The Sunday Times for 20 years (1965-85) and one of the leaders of its Insight investigative team. He was twice named Journalist of the Year (1980 and 1988) in the British Press Awards. He and John Pilger are the only journalists ever to have won it twice.

He was also Granada Reporter of the Year (1980), Colour Magazine Writer of the Year (1982), hol
...more
More about Phillip Knightley...

Share This Book