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Author Hitz Tackles 'Myth and Reality' of Espionage

Author Frederick P. Hitz
Author Frederick P. Hitz

Spy novels have taken the art of espionage out of the shadows and into the hands of readers since the end of the 19th century. Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and John Le Carre elevated the genre to new levels of sophistication. Ian Fleming's James Bond novels -- and the films based on them -- romanticized espionage to the point of fantasy, and secured for the spy a central role in popular culture.

In his new book The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage, Frederick Hitz compares the exploits of fictional spies, such as Le Carre's George Smiley, to real-life secret agents. Hitz is a former CIA operations officer, and also served as the CIA's inspector general. The book is based on a seminar he teaches at Princeton University.

Hitz and NPR's Liane Hansen recently discussed the mystique of the spy's craft -- fictional and otherwise -- during a visit to Washington's International Spy Museum.

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Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.