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

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  222 Ratings  ·  26 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, 306 pages
Published September 17th 2002 by Atria Books (NYC) (first published September 16th 2002)
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(showing 1-30)
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Virginia
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, spies, read-2012
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
...more
Ann Mcgrath
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Burky Ford
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever wondered what really happens in the spy world? This book tells you. It is more like a diary than a story. (Not a fantiasy, like a James Bond story.) From training around D.C. and Richmond to real-world operations, the authors tell it like it is.
Alice
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: action, military, spooks
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
Kelly
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readforwork
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
Joe
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: espionage
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).
Jeannie
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Erik Graff
Oct 05, 2013 rated it liked it
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
...more
Robert
May 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Doyle
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Eric
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
David
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Gwen
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Lisa
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating account of real spies fighting the Cold War. A bit tedious in parts, but things pick up and tell a gripping story about technical experts both inside the CIA and elsewhere who come together to defeat the KGB's excessive and seemingly unstoppable surveillance to pull off an almost impossible escape.
Audrey Miller
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
Andrew
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
M
Mar 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jason Pinegar
Mar 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Anne
Jan 15, 2008 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
Eric
Aug 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
this book sucked.
Dessi Bradecich
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great insight into what espionage is all about. Masterfully told with actual photos.
Kalie
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Action-packed. A husband and wife duo tell of their adventures as CIA operatives during the Cold War.
Alison
Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ruth
Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Richelle Baustian
rated it really liked it
Mar 12, 2013
Christine Scott
rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2016
Judy McDowell
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Oct 16, 2012
Richard
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Aug 23, 2008
Matthew Bolitho
rated it it was amazing
Oct 01, 2014
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Antonio Joseph "Tony" Méndez 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. Méndez...

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