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Canadian Spies and Spies in Canada: Undercover at Home & Abroad    by Peter Boer order for
Canadian Spies and Spies in Canada
by Peter Boer
Order:  USA  Can
Lone Pine, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

This little (144 pages) volume is another in a series that could be subtitled 'Did you know ... ?' As the title indicates, the reader is introduced to spies, double agents, and sometimes even triple agents, who lurk in the murky world of international politics.

Perhaps the most well known is William Stephenson, 'The Man Called Intrepid', made famous by the novel and film of that title. His career as soldier and pilot in World War I, although respectable, was eclipsed by his role in World War II. At the behest of Prime Minister Churchill himself, Stephenson organized and directed a spy service in North America, with the intent of bringing the United States into the War. (This was before Pearl Harbor obviously.) The scope of his activities is impressive and rather chilling.

Other less well known spies include a hapless German agent who was discovered and apprehended almost immediately after his surreptitious landing (that story reads almost like a comedy), the unfortunate Russian spy who had a terrible time trying to defect (no one believed him), a truly despicable RCMP officer who sold out for a paltry sum, and a respectable and competent Canadian diplomat who may or may not have been blackmailed by the KGB. One of the most fascinating developments is the recent creation of the anti-terrorist JTF2 Squad, Joint Task Force 2, which, despite lack of adequate funding and political and bureaucratic waffling, appears to be a credible and effective force.

As the author notes, Canada is hardly the first country one thinks of at the mention of spies; and certainly some of the bungling detailed in these accounts indicates a rocky beginning, to say the least. Because the stories are quite brief, the lack of detail is sometimes frustrating. All the same, this is an interesting introduction to a fascinating topic.

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