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Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools & Operations That Helped Win the Cold War
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Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools & Operations That Helped Win the Cold War

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  168 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Reviewed & released by the CIA, opening a window on the actual world of espionage--elusive identities, sophisticated gadgetry, triple-think strategies--"Spy Dust" reveals more about US intelligence techniques abroad than most published works of nonfiction. Moscow, 1988--the twilight of the Cold War. The KGB is at its most ruthless & has indisputably gained the uppe ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 17th 2002 by Atria Books (NYC) (first published September 16th 2002)
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Fascinating look into the lives and wizardry behind the CIA operating in Russia. A must-read for all fans of spy stories and shows. These are the real life "Marshall Flinkman" and "Q"s of the world. I never knew our US technology was so advanced. Nor did I realize just how bull-headed our State Department was/is in terms of spying. The USSR and KGB had certain things RIGHT! (Well, in terms of espionage, I mean.)

Although at times confusing due to tons of jargon and trying to visualize the ops, a
I read this book months ago, but its stories still come to mind pretty often. I've never had a book give me the kind of palpitations I had as I followed along with the missions -- stealing equipment straight out of a Soviet embassy while its staff was out on holiday, smuggling translators and friendly counter-intelligence officials out at the last possible second, and all this occurring while Soviet friends were getting picked off by the KGB one by one, because the CIA had yet to discover that t ...more
One imagines reading SPY DUST that Tony and Jonna Mendez are a charming and fascinating couple with some incredible stories to tell. Too bad the book doesn’t actually tell any of them! Whatever the reason — be it intelligence protection or just bad editing — the book is a mess. It repeatedly skips over the most interesting parts of the narrative — including the climactic exfiltration! They’re supposed to be “masters of disguise” but they include no details of their techniques and, despite having ...more
Erik Graff
Oct 05, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: espionage fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
I picked this thing up at a used bookstore owing to the discovery that it is written by the author of Argo, the book upon which the popular recent movie of the same name was based. Besides, I generally enjoy peeking into the world of espionage and this book covers the same period covered by another written by another CIA insider.

While Spy Dust reads well, the married authors alternating chapters from their two, first-person perspectives, it's certainly not great literature. While the story of th
Picked up Spy Dust at a book sale. It was okay, though lighter on tradecraft and heavier on the romance memoir than I would have liked. I have the feeling that I'd prefer Tony Mendez's first book, Master of Disguise more.

I did like seeing some of the Northern Virginia locales pop up (Jonna Mendez lived in Reston at one point, and Shenanigans in Sterling was mentioned, which I believe used to be off of Route 7).
Ann Mcgrath
Real life action adventures, alternately told in the voices of Tony and Jonna, from the successful disguise of a valuable agent in Indochina, 1973, through the training of agents in avoiding surveillance, to the exfiltration of an agent and his wife right under the noses of their "minders", will keep you turning pages to see what happens next.
Very Interesting book, I learned a great deal and know I never want to come in contact with the "Cellar Babushka" that;s for sure. Also, I under estimated the KGB.
Some really fascinating facts here, and it was kind of a fun read, but lots of skimming necessary, as the writing (especially his) is not very good. And I don't really care about their wedding.
The book leaves one with the sense that even though the "Cold War" as we once knew it might never really be over. The despots of tyranny are always trying to destroy this great country of ours…the good ole US of A. Until we realize the dangers that we face from terrorist MUSLIMS who wish to behead us (not tolerate us!), we will be blind to many aspects and situations described in this book. Excellent read.
This book was a complete fraud. Tauted as an insider's look at Cold War-era espionage, it is really a sappy, on-the-job romance novel. The workplace just happens to be the CIA. The two authors fall in love in a manner that I found repugnantly unprofessional, given the nature and importance of their work. Jonna Mendez even admits that her newfound romance negatively affected her reconnaissance work in China, because all she could think about was "being in love." The most interesting spy-related c ...more
Written by two former members of the C.I.A.'s Disguise Division. Spy Dust is most definitely a fine addition to any library for the serious espionage student or collector, much less future and current members of this elite agency. Really enjoyed the tradecraft mentioned, as well as a review of the legendary "Moscow Rules." This book helps fill in some of the gaps of the actions of the traitors: Lee, Walker, Ames, and Hansen. The final operation covered in the book proves fact is indeed stranger ...more
Audrey Miller
Providing fascinating insight into the end of the Cold War through CIA lenses, Spy Dust far surpasses an earlier work by Mendez that I thoroughly enjoyed. Written from the perspective of both Tony and his wife, Jonna, also in the CIA, readers will be stunned at some of the lengths the KGB and CIA both went to in their intelligence war. Gripping!
The auditors of the universe decide that Death needs to be retired and replaced with a new Death person. In order to do this they give Death a chance to live (so he can hurry up and die). He goes to earth and learns what it means to live. Overall it had some interesting parts, but some of the side stories were not as exciting.
I didn't really enjoy this book. It was kind of interesting, but I got lost in a lot of the spy jargon, and I don't think that I followed the story line very well. Strangely, this is also very little mention of "spy dust". Still, it's kind of cool that all of this ACTUALLY happened, and I learned a little bit about the CIA.
Good read on how one part of the CIA worked during the Cold War. I especially liked the end when they detailed out an operation to pull out an informant and his family out of the heart of Moscow while planting a communication device that helped out in ending the Cold War.
In keeping with my penchant for the real world of espionage. The spy dust was very real and viable. Fascinating. Basically it is grown people playing games. The end result is a scoreboard of winners and losers and sometimes that loss is fatal.
Joe Wisniewski
A very interesting "how do they do it" primer with annecdotes of how things work when they go right or not so right and improvisation becomes the primary element of a successful operation.
This book was fascinating, like the book Mater of Disguise. I loved the style in which it was written and it was nice to have a female perspective of the CIA.
Jason Pinegar
Good inside look at the CIA during the Cold War era. Also deals with the challenges of managing a career in the CIA and having a family.
Jan 15, 2008 Anne marked it as to-read
I think I read somewhere the subjects of this book live in my area so I bought it for my husband and now I have it on my list to read
Action-packed. A husband and wife duo tell of their adventures as CIA operatives during the Cold War.
Lots of exciting details about the spy life, with a dash of romance thrown in.
this book sucked.
Philip marked it as to-read
Aug 18, 2015
Will marked it as to-read
Aug 06, 2015
Vboutott marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2015
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Antonio Joseph "Tony" Mendez is an American CIA technical operations officer, now retired, who specialized in support of clandestine and covert CIA operations. He has written three memoirs about his CIA experiences.
More about Antonio J. Mendez...
Argo: How the CIA & Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA A Classic Case of Deception Gathering Info: Getting the Scoop by Using Your Wits Going Undercover: Disguise & Secret Identities

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