Before Bond, before Maxwell Smart, and before Mrs. Emma Peel, we’ve enjoyed a wide variety of TV spies. From Dangerous Assignment to Burn Notice, we've watched cloak-and-dagger adventures from popular successes such as Alias and Mission: Impossible to thoughtful mini-series such as The Sandbaggers to cartoons and even live animals in Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.
Our TV secret agents have worn masks and capes (Adventures of Zorro), fought in the historical past (Hogan’s Heroes, Jack of All Trades), been as stylish as Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E, or have been as frumpy as George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
No one knows more about the wide vista of these undercover operatives than Dr. Wesley Britton, author of the highly-acclaimed 2004 history of the genre, Spy Television. Now, Britton has compiled the first indispensable reference book on television espionage, unveiling the secrets behind our beloved favorites, the nuggets we might have missed, and the programs that disappeared without a trace after their short original runs.
Britton provides the behind-the-scenes creative process for TV spies, drawn from both extensive research and his interviews with many participants. He uncovers the reasons why some dramas were either unforgettable hits or regrettable misses.
Britton also offers analysis of the elements that made key shows innovative and trend-setting and why some of the best productions ever made never jelled with the networks or audiences.
Extra features include articles on tie-in novels and how to collect TV spy music.
What's inside The Encyclopedia of TV Spies? Here's what the experts say:
"Wesley Britton is the authority on the genre of espionage in television and film. He proves it again with The Encyclopedia of TV Spies. This is an invaluable reference book for anyone interested in the history of television, and that of spies on the small screen, no small subject, and no small effort on the part of Dr. Britton. They're all here: contemporary spies, Western spies, war time spies, cold war spies, serious ones, funny ones, mysterious ones, agents from England, the U.S., from U.N.C.L.E. and KAOS. You get the background on over 200 shows, the creators, the stars, the characters, with behind the scenes intrigue as well as that which was put on the screen. A triumph in research. A must read. More so, a must own."
-- Marc Cushman, author of I Spy: A History and Episode Guide to the Groundbreaking Television Series
"Open Channel D! Wesley Britton has accomplished a mission impossible -- he's written the ultimate reference work on TV Spies on-the-air, in print, and even in music. Get Smart - The Encyclopedia of TV Spies is a must-have for any fan or scholar of the genre.
"In fact, Britton's book is a long overdue and desperately needed reference work that should be a part of any serious TV library. It covers every conceivable aspect of the TV espionage genre and will satisfy both the curiosity of fans and the scholarly needs of researchers. The Encyclopedia of TV Spies is packed with details but is never dry and academic. Britton clearly loves his subject and approaches it with enthusiasm that comes through on every page."
-- Lee Goldberg, executive producer, Diagnosis: Murder, author of the Monk original tie-in novels.
"The Encyclopedia of TV Spies by Wes Britton is a mammoth dossier of television espionage that no true fan of the genre should be without. This exhaustive directory covers television programs from 1951 to 2008, and it is a delightful stroll down memory lane. From Alias to The Man From U.N.C.L.E., nothing is missed--including programs one would not readily associate with espionage, such as Hogan's Heroes. Also referenced are investigative pieces, such as Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story.
"The Encyclopedia is rich with photographs, and each entry contains a concise but thorough synopsis, marvelously describing the show and tipping the hat to directors, producers, and actors. Dr. Britton clearly demonstrates his extensive knowledge of television espionage, packaging it in a way that is informative and, at the same time, very fun to read. This collection, without a doubt, will one day soon become required reading for film students."
--Bill Raetz, author of the World Espionage Bureau novels including The Lie Detector, Surveillance, and Romanian Skylark
"What does every spy want from his boss for each assignment? Obviously, the answer is a dossier containing detailed data on the ‘target'. Equally, what does every spy fan want? The answer must be a complete dossier on TV's spy shows. At last, to meet this need, there is a book which lifts the entire lid on the covert world of secret agents on television. The Encyclopedia of TV Spies has been exhaustively compiled by Wes Britton. Covering the past six decades, with entries set out in alphabetical order, followers of all these secret missions and undercover operations will be surprised to find just how many television spies they did not know about.
"Of course, all the most popular characters are included, from shows like The Avengers, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Danger Man, The Prisoner, Man in a Suitcase and so on. But, by the time the reader has explored over 500 pages and around 130,000 words, a formidable amount of knowledge will have been uncovered in this excellent volume. The contents are well set out, there are appendices and lists with all the dates and descriptions provided. But this is no dull directory; instead, this book is an entertaining and easy read. Packed with ‘intelligence', this book won't stay ‘under cover' for long and will definitely be out in the open, on bookshelves of the many fans who love to spy on the spies."
---Roger Langley, author of Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man or Prisoner?
"Finally an authoritative reference source for information on the spy stories that have graced and disgraced the small screen since the earliest days of television. While the Internet is full to overflowing with data on spy shows on TV, some of it is fact, and some of it is proof of the validity of Goebbels' maxim that a `lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth.' When you look something up on the Internet, you have to fact-check it. When you look it up in The Encyclopedia of TV Spies (1951-2008), it has already been fact-checked by one of the most prominent experts in the field of spy fiction, both in print and on the screen. So, while it may seem faster to open a browser to look something up, by the time you get through fact-checking, it would have been faster to open the
book. Highly recommended for spy-fiction fans everywhere."
--T.H.E. Hill, author of Voices Under Berlin: A Tale of A Monterey Mary, A Spy Novel of the Berlin Tunnel
"As a dedicated TV geek, who spent way too many of his formative years watching a large number of the shows Wes Britton has detailed in his Encyclopedia, I really didn't expect to learn much from this book. But Wes has done a wonderful job brilliantly capturing the life and times of the television spy. He's concocted a wonderful cornucopia that captures the breadth of the genre and an amazing amount of detail about the individual shows involved. I learnt something new about many shows I've spent years watching, and learnt of plenty of new shows I should spend many years watching. This is truly a stunning collection of research covering every aspect of spies on television. If you've ever watched and enjoyed a TV show about a spy, you'll enjoy this book."
---Ian Dickerson, Honorary Secretary, The Saint Club
"There can never be enough books about television spies. Every book offers a unique insight that will not be found in other books of the same subject. Wesley Britton has provided us with a new perspective that is certainly welcome with scholarly insight and a fondness for international intrigue. Also included are detailed listings of the paperback novels based on the programs which, for a collector like myself, find a wonderful tool and checklist to go by. If we only had more books like this, our favorite spies would never have to remain in the shadows."
--Martin Grams, Jr., author of I Led Three Lives: The True Story of Herbert A. Philbrick's Television Program
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