Books Monographs

Of Moles and Molehunters: A Review of Counterintelligence Literature, 1977–92

By Cleveland Cram (1993)


This monograph has two parts. The first is an essay on the counterintelligence literature produced from 1977 to 1992. The second contains reviews of selected books from that period. The essay and reviews concentrate on the major counterintelligence issues of the period. Highlighted are the controversial views of James Angleton, former head of CIA’s Counterintelligence (CI) Staff, about the threat posed by Soviet intelligence operations. Also featured is Soviet defector Anatole Golitsyn, whose claims about Soviet operations had a compelling influence on Western counterintelligence services beginning about 1962 and until 1975.

The study focuses mainly on books about the American, British, and Canadian intelligence and security services as they dealt with the Soviet intelligence threat, although it also mentions the services of other West European countries such as France, West Germany, and Norway. Not every book on espionage and counterintelligence published between 1977 and 1992 is reviewed; only those that are historically accurate, at least in general, and were influential are assessed. Excluded are some recent works—like Widows, by William R. Corson and Susan and Joseph Trento—because they are not reputable by even the generally low standards of most counterintelligence writing.

No study exists on Angleton’s efforts in retirement to spread his conspiracy and other theories through writers such as Edward J. Epstein. Nor has there been any substantial analysis of the impact in Britain of revelations such as the Blunt case, the false charges made against Sir Roger Hollis and his deputy, Graham Mitchell, nor of the events that led eventually to the famous Spycatcher trial in Australia.

The books reviewed in this monograph appeared during these difficult times, and an effort has been
made to put them in their historical perspective. Some of these publications, with their extreme assertions, distracted intelligence and security services from important challenges they faced in the last years of the Cold War. That they overcame these diversions reflects the common sense and decency exercised by leaders of intelligence services in the post-Angleton years.

Readers of the entire monograph will find certain observations and comments in the essay reappear in individual reviews, often with more detail. The writer anticipates that the monograph will be used as a reference by some who may turn directly to a particular review without having read the essay. For that reason, the repetition seems worthwhile.