Fiction Favorites of the Espionage Pros

By Piper Bayard of Bayard & & Holmes

Recently, Holmes and I had the opportunity to amuse some outstanding concerns throughout an online RWA workshop, and we wish to share a few of the concerns and answers with you.

Composing espionage is a balancing act between being authentic and being so precise that we embarrass political leaders, get people killed, and/or wind up with some mad FBI Special Agents on our doorstep. As a basic rule, while the non-violent humiliation of politicians who are asking for it can be satisfying, authors, like all smart and good individuals, wish to prevent damaging any of our own individuals or having uncomfortable discussions with the FBI. My writing partner, “Jay Holmes,” is a 45-year veteran of intelligence field operations, and we are committed to helping writers stroll that line of credibility.

1. What is the American television show that comes closest to accurately portraying spies?

2. Which films most precisely represent the CIA? Which are less precise?

Given that Holmes and I are not familiar with all of the programs and movies out there, I tossed this to the Intelligence Community (” IC”) on Twitter for a broader action. A number of the shows advised are not particularly American, however many things crossed the whole profession, such as governmental interactions, tradecraft, and the obstacles personnel deal with, that Holmes and I did not restrict ourselves to American shows in our answers.

RED and GET SMART, though satirical funnies, are strangely accurate in the jokes, the mindsets, and, with RED, the characters of those who are on the kinetic fringe of intelligence operations.

THE LIVES OF OTHERS is a German film about Stasi surveillance of people of East Berlin throughout the Cold War.

A huge thanks to the Intelligence Community on Twitter for coming to our aid with this question. You country rocks!

As for COVERT AFFAIRS, I saw the pilot. Its fun, however literally the only reasonable thing about this show is the referral to donuts. I have it on excellent authority that the halls of HQ are plentiful with a massive amount of donuts, croissants, pastries, and sweet stuffed things, as well as the periodic cookies I send to buddies to share at the workplace.

The genuine Jan Kubis and Jozef GabcikImage by UK Govt., public domain ANTHROPOID is the traditionally precise film about the operation to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich in World War II. It is impressive in showing how unpleasant, imperfect human beings can achieve something “impossible” in the field, even when whatever goes incorrect. It is true to the story of Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík.

MOTION PICTURES John le Carré was a previous member of the British intelligence services, and its typically agreed that his works are amongst the most precise, with A MAN MOST WANTED, THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL (the film), and THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD topping the list.

Its worth noting that after the first two hours or so of bandying about movie titles on Twitter, it was acknowledged that numerous of these films suggested were not especially precise, but they are enjoyable, and that is the point of fiction.

What espionage questions would you like to see us resolve here at Writers in the Storm? Bayard and Holmes are also open for questions down in the remark area.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD includes an element of Intelligence Community history that is not often pointed out in popular culture– the influence of Yales Skull & & Bones society. While Yale and other Ivy League schools are still well-represented at HQ, there are now likewise many independent school alums and state college grads among the Intelligence Community ranks, and the CIA and other branches actively hire at schools understood for their diversity.

As for accurate representation of the CIA, the CIA has a comprehensive and diligent evaluation board that is very careful to ensure that no movies made by employees or former workers accurately represent it, so with the assistance of the IC on Twitter, I drew in movies from other services, as well.

SUM OF ALL FEARS is advised for the truth of the expert scenes, though the film itself is far-fetched.

THE AMERICANS is accurate in much of its tradecraft and the truths of the Cold War. Three things are distinctly fiction about it. No nation would use deep cover representatives for such mundane things as honeypots, assassinations, or thefts.

For more military-type characters and espionage operations, THE BRAVE is exceptional. It was great enough to disturb some individuals.

JACK RYAN is enjoyable and well written, though definitely imaginary in its premise of an expert involved in hazardous field work. Jack is a monetary analyst for the CIA, not an operations officer. Lots of people switch backward and forward in between operations and analysis, however while they are working as analysts, it is unlikely that they would head out on operations that have a high expectation of violence. If they are like Jack, without any prior operational training or operational experience, it is even more not likely. The truth that Jack is a former Marine does not change that, as even previous Marines need operational training. I would point out that the dating difficulties Jack experiences are very genuine for those in the IC, even the analysts.

LIBERTY CROSSING, one of my individual favorites, is a comedy about the National Counterterrorism Center (” NCTC”). It is pure genius for showing the characters and inter-agency characteristics.

More TV favorites of the Intelligence Community: Deutschland 83 and 86, The Spy (Israeli series), Chaos, Intelligence (CBC), Counterpart, The Assets, Smileys People, The Bletchley Circle, A Perfect Spy, Patriot, and Restless.

THE NIGHT MANAGER is a BBC series based upon the book by John le Carré, and you can never fail with John le Carré.

More movie theater favorites of the Intelligence Community: Body of Lies, Munich, Spy, The Patriots, The Black Book, Spy Game, The Angel, Bridge of Spies, Ronin, Hidden Agenda, Hopscotch, The Quiet American, Ace of Spies, Our Man in Havana, Spies of Warsaw, The Tailor of Panama, Prisoners of War, the Johnny Worricker Trilogy, Office Space, Three Days of the Condor, The Falcon and the Snowman, The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe, In Bruges, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The least accurate films and TELEVISION shows are anything that show CIA operations inside United States jurisdiction, which consists of HOMELAND and more things out of Hollywood than I can name. Equally ridiculous are programs that have the CIA or any other United States intelligence organization intentionally killing innocent people, eliminating off their own individuals, breaking serial killers out of jail to assassinate people, or persuading people to assassinate people.

Holmes and I are fans of the Israeli program FAUDA, which was established by two former members of the Israeli Defense Forces and based upon their individual experiences. Heavy on wise field action, it is also abundant in social and cultural depth. Fast-paced and violent. Find it on Netflix, where it is offered in Hebrew and arabic with subtitles.

THE SANDBAGGERS is an older British series that is dazzling in its portrayal of what goes on behind operations as well as in the field. Often, many discussions and bargains occur between organizations and between allies to accomplish intelligence operations.

It was a joy to see the response from the Intelligence Community on Twitter. It stirred a rousing discussion that lasted two days, producing answers we never ever would have thought about on our own.

CHARLIE WILSONS WAR is a favorite of Holmess and an exceptional motion picture about Texas congressman Charlie Wilsons participation in getting United States assistance for Afghanistan versus the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. He is a calm, level-headed, high-respected intelligence specialist.

The French show THE BUREAU is an intelligence community preferred, along with the first season of KILLING EVE.

TURN is a representation of the Culpepper Spy Ring from the Revolutionary War. Excellent duration piece to enjoy for the elements of intelligence work that never alter– the danger, the uncertainty, the nerve, the motives, dead drops, and the method individuals of all financial statuses and backgrounds can be united in a common cause.

* * * * * * About Bayard and Holmes

SPYCRAFT: ESSENTIALS, takes the fiction out of spy fiction, covering the functions and jurisdictions of the main United States intelligence organizations, the espionage personality and character, recruitment, tradecraft strategies, monitoring, guns, the most common foibles of spy fiction, and far more. WIt is offered in digital format and print. See Bayard & & Holmes Nonfiction for links to your favored bookseller.

Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes of Bayard & & Holmes are the authors of espionage fiction and nonfiction. Please check out Piper and Jay at their website, For notices of their upcoming releases, register for the Bayard & & Holmes Covert Briefing. You can likewise contact Bayard & & Holmes at their Contact page, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Piper Bayard or Bayard & & Holmes, or at their email,


Holmes and I are fans of the Israeli show FAUDA, which was established by two former members of the Israeli Defense Forces and based on their personal experiences. CHARLIE WILSONS WAR is a favorite of Holmess and an excellent film about Texas congressman Charlie Wilsons participation in acquiring US assistance for Afghanistan against the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Similarly absurd are shows that have the CIA or any other US intelligence organization intentionally eliminating innocent people, eliminating off their own people, breaking serial killers out of jail to assassinate people, or persuading individuals to assassinate individuals. SPYCRAFT: ESSENTIALS, takes the fiction out of spy fiction, covering the functions and jurisdictions of the main United States intelligence organizations, the espionage character and character, recruitment, tradecraft methods, security, guns, the most common characteristics of spy fiction, and much more.

My writing partner, “Jay Holmes,” is a 45-year veteran of intelligence field operations, and we are dedicated to assisting authors stroll that line of credibility.

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