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The Secret World of Espionage

Facts are often better than fiction. Uncover real secrets about real spies throughout history.  The next 6 episodes will be available on November 19th!

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Overview

Go behind the shadows with a distinguished panel of historians—including a former intelligence case officer—in search of the secret meeting places, complex codes, stealth observations, and cutting-edge technologies spies have used throughout history. As you get to know real spies and their methods, you’ll uncover how their work is much more fascinating than anything pop culture could dream up.

Facts are often better than fiction. Uncover real secrets about real spies throughout history with these first three episodes of The Secret World of Espionage6 new episodes will be coming on November 19th!

About

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius
Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

Modernity is a notoriously slippery concept, because, obviously, what is modern now will soon become the past, as time marches relentlessly forward.

INSTITUTION

University of Tennessee

Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Professor Liulevicius has won many awards and honors, including the University of Tennessee's Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. At the university he teaches courses on modern German history, Western civilization, European diplomatic history, Nazi Germany, World War I, war and culture, 20th-century Europe, nationalism, and utopian thought. Dr. Liulevicius has published numerous articles and two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present.

Professor Liulevicius participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about diplomacy and war

By This Expert

Turning Points in Modern History
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History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration
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A History of Eastern Europe
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The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin
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Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao
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Lynne Olson

We will investigate the lives of those who did their best to defeat tyranny and restore freedom in their own countries and around the world.

Lynne Olson is a historian and New York Times best-selling author of eight books, most of which focus on World War II. She earned degrees in Political Science and Journalism at the University of Arizona (with Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude honors), followed by a master’s degree in Literature at American University.

 

After graduation, Professor Olson worked as a journalist for 10 years. She worked with the Associated Press as a national feature writer in New York, a foreign correspondent in the Moscow bureau, and a political reporter in Washington DC. She then joined the Washington bureau of The Baltimore Sun, where she covered national politics and eventually the White House. She later taught for six years at American University.

 

Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright has called Professor Olson “our era’s foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy.” Her books include Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network against Hitler; Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War; Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight over World War II, 1939–1941; and Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour

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Unsung Heroes of World War II: Europe
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Richard B. Spence

A key theme is that human history, behavior and reality are governed not by what we know but by what we believe.

INSTITUTION

University of Idaho

Dr. Richard B. “Rick” Spence is Professor of History at the University of Idaho, where he has taught since 1986. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara (1981), and taught there as a visiting assistant professor from 1981 to 1985. His primary areas of study are modern Russian, modern European, Middle Eastern, and military history. Professor Spence’s research interests include espionage; occultism; anti-Semitism; and, of course, secret societies. His major published works include Boris Savinkov: Renegade on the Left (1991), Trust No One: The Secret World of Sidney Reilly (2002), Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult (2008), and Wall Street and the Russian Revolution, 1905-1925 (2017). He is the author of numerous articles in Revolutionary Russia, Intelligence and National Security, Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, American Communist History, The Historian, and other journals. He has also contributed to New Dawn and other popular publications. His current projects include a book, American Spies in Revolutionary Russia, and articles on the mysterious literary figure, Arthur Cravan; the smuggling of Russian Imperial Jewels; and the deadly Eddystone munitions plant explosion of 1917. He has been a commentator/consultant for HISTORY®, the International Spy Museum, Radio Liberty, and has consulted for and been interviewed in documentaries produced by the Russian Cultural Foundation, Mamontov Productions, and other Russian media outlets. He is also a popular guest on radio shows and podcasts, having been interviewed more than 30 times since 2015 on such programs as The Other Side of Might, Midnight in the Desert, Leak Project, Esoteric Hollywood, and Truth Be Told. Professor Spence offers a number of special courses at the University of Idaho, including Conspiracies and Secret Societies in History, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, History of Terrorism, and The Occult in History. He has been recognized for his contributions to the University’s Honors, International Studies and Naval ROTC Programs, and has received teaching excellence awards from the university, alumni, and student body.

By This Expert

The Real History of Secret Societies
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Crimes of the Century: A Selective History of Infamy
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Hugh Wilford

A fundamental contradiction lies at the heart of the CIA's existence. It's the tension between democracy and accountability on one hand, and the need for secrecy on the other to protect the government and its people.

INSTITUTION

University of California, Santa Barbara
Hugh Wilford is a Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). He was born in the United Kingdom and graduated with a BA with honors in Modern History from the University of Bristol. Professor Wilford earned his PhD in American Studies from the University of Exeter. He began his career teaching US history in England at Middlesex University in London and the University of Sheffield. While still based in the UK, he received scholarships from the Fulbright Commission and the British government to teach and research in the United States, first at CSULB, then at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he remains a Faculty Affiliate. At CSULB, Professor Wilford has received a President’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Achievement in teaching and research and the Distinguished Faculty Scholarly & Creative Achievement Award. He has also received awards from several other US institutions, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Princeton University Library, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Professor Wilford has published extensively in the field of US history on such topics as the CIA, US–Middle East relations, Americanization and anti-Americanism in Europe, the American left, and US intellectuals. He is the author of many scholarly articles and papers as well as several books, including The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America; The CIA, the British Left and the Cold War: Calling the Tune?; and The New York Intellectuals: From Vanguard to Institution. Professor Wilford’s book America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East won a gold medal in The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Book Prize competition. He is the coeditor, with Helen Laville, of The US Government, Citizen Groups and the Cold War: The State-Private Network. Professor Wilford’s work has been featured in numerous TV, radio, and newspaper interviews.

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The Agency: A History of the CIA
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Spies: Facts and Fiction

01: Spies: Facts and Fiction

How much does pop culture get wrong about espionage? Meet some real-life figures who inspired fictional spies like James Bond. Gain insights into how spies work, the jobs they hold, and the organizations they belong to.

30 min
The Human Element

02: The Human Element

Spies are human beings, too. Dig into the many sources of intelligence information, including one we traditionally associate with spies: HUMINT, or intelligence gathered by people. What traits should a spy ideally possess? Which ones shouldn’t they possess?

26 min
The Great Game

03: The Great Game

Travel back to the 1500s and consider how spies and espionage helped create governments, expand economies—and even overturn monarchies. Historical cases plunge you into heated political games involving Britain, Russia, India, and Afghanistan.

27 min