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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny whether or not it is true
I ordered this book thinking that it would be like the other 'Ministry of Information' type books which have come onto the market recently. However, this one is slightly different. It purports to be an instruction manual for the CIA, using sleight of hand (magic tricks and illusion) as a means of concealing secret equipment. It also deals with how tablets, powders and...
Published on 16 Dec. 2010 by Joanne K. Pilsworth

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disapointing
The best thing about this book is the cover. The rest of the book is 'hackneyed' and unbelievably full of cliche's.
The so-called techniqiues must have been thought up by someone who watched too many 'Man from UNCLE' episodes.
Real gems like 'How to fold a sheet of A4 with one hand' and how to pick up a sheet of paper using a book with the back covered in...
Published on 26 Nov. 2010 by A. Cresswell


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disapointing, 26 Nov. 2010
By 
A. Cresswell "Bubblefish777 - Born again Diver" (london, UK) - See all my reviews
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The best thing about this book is the cover. The rest of the book is 'hackneyed' and unbelievably full of cliche's.
The so-called techniqiues must have been thought up by someone who watched too many 'Man from UNCLE' episodes.
Real gems like 'How to fold a sheet of A4 with one hand' and how to pick up a sheet of paper using a book with the back covered in wax.
Really? This is CIA training ? Covert techniques marked secret ?
I don't think so. This is more like a 12 year old's magic trick set and even then you'd be dissapointed. Don't waste your money.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wished that I hadn't bothered reading it, 21 Jan. 2011
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A Smile and a Wave (UK) - See all my reviews
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Most people have some degree of interest in another person's secrets and that's what might attract them to a book like this. I had high hopes of real insight into the world of magic and espionage but regret to say that this book doesn't deliver on its promises. Despite an intriguing cover and a good concept it failed to interest me for the most part with only one or two items that I found worthwhile, and although I managed to read it all of the way through by the time I got there I really wished that I hadn't bothered.
There are people who could appreciate a book like this but I'm certainly not one of them. Had I been a twelve year old boy then I might have taken great delight in passing this around the playground, but otherwise I would say that it is of limited appeal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny whether or not it is true, 16 Dec. 2010
By 
Joanne K. Pilsworth (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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I ordered this book thinking that it would be like the other 'Ministry of Information' type books which have come onto the market recently. However, this one is slightly different. It purports to be an instruction manual for the CIA, using sleight of hand (magic tricks and illusion) as a means of concealing secret equipment. It also deals with how tablets, powders and liquids should be handled (poisoning) and my personal favourite, "Special Aspects of Deception for Woman". Mata Hari impressions, here we come!!

It should be borne in mind that this book is described as the only known complete copy of Mulholland's instructions to CIA officers on the art of deception. Some of the language may seem a bit dated, such as the descriptions of what could be hidden in a handkerchief. But on reading the book, one can't help but be amazed at how simple sleight of hand and illusion could be used in such a dark manner. The secret handling of liquids for example leads to the reasonable conclusion that this could be used for poison.

It is for this reason that this book deserves a 5 star rating. It needs to be read bearing in mind the time it was written, the height of the Cold War. There was a very real concern that covert agents might be put at risk by some of the techniques used. With illustrations of Russian devices used for concealment, this was clearly a very real threat. As an example of the things that could be achieved, in a time before the technology that seems so commonplace now, this book is surely an important resource.

It may be that is a complete spoof, but even if it is, it is worth reading, just for the ingeniousness within.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect a fun read, 21 April 2011
By 
JBV "JBV^_^" - See all my reviews
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I've had to read dozens of official documents - Data Protection Act, Computer Misuse Act being just two of the latest, so I pretty much knew what to expect from this.

If you're thinking this is going to be a fun and entertaining read, you're sadly mistaken. All governmental documents are written in the same style - I like to call it "bored lawyer" style.

So now that's out of the way what's this book about. This is what happens when a secret service (the CIA in this case) approaches a magician for slight-of-hand and other tricks that might be useful in their line of work. If like me you're interested in undercover operations and the type of techniques they use, then this is an excellent source. After all it's the genuine article - a primary source of information. This has one other thing going for it (unlike the two I referred to in the first paragraph) it's illustrated. Trust me, it helps... The funny thing is, while this was written in the 1950's and withdrawn in the 70's, some of the techniques are still in use today, though not exactly as shown here. If I had to say why this was withdrawn, I'd say it had to do with improved electronic communications, which basically made a lot of this obsolete.

Should you buy this book? If you have an interest in espionage and sabotage, then this will be an interesting read. Those interested in general military operations might like it as a source book. Anyone else should probably give it a miss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promised so much, but the title is deceptive., 13 Feb. 2011
By 
J. Lyne (Forres, Morayshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I really looked forward to reading this book - nobody who still has a bit of child left could fail to be attracted to what is promised within.

And I thought that the book started off very well. It explains the history behind the manual contained within - a magician was recruited to teach the operatives sleight of hand techniques which they could use for many things such as removing an item from a desk or slipping poison into a drink. There then follows a history of deception within the "spy" community. This bit is by far the most interesting part of the book - some of the things attempted, planned or carried out by the various intelligence agencies over the years are really quite incredible. However this bit is spoiled for me by well over 150 footnotes which necessitate turning to the rear of the book to read. most of them are of little consequence and after a while I just stopped reading them totally.

Approximately a third of the way through the book you get to the actual paper. This is when things began to go downhill rapidly for me. The author describes various techniques to add pills to drinks, remove papers from a table or fold pieces of paper with one hand in a very flowery and dated style - much as you would expect a stage magician to use flowery language to distract you while you are watching his tricks. This made the book very hard to read and I had to stop myself skimming over pages to try and get to anything interesting. And then it was over.

The main interest for me was in the earlier section of the book. I suppose that budding magicians may get a bit from the main section, but for me it was too long winded and ultimately uninteresting.

My appetite for reading more about the world of espionage has certainly been whetted by this book, but I would recommend that for more on the history of spying there are better books. As will there be on the techniques of distracting people for the trainee stage magician.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promises more than it delivers, 27 Feb. 2011
By 
Alison "Kindle Allie" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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As others have similarly reviewed, the best thing about this book is the great looking cover. It's just like you would imagine a declassified intelligence file to look.

The old adage "don't judge a book by its cover" is unfortunately true here. The book content is somewhat disappointing. The first half of the book is a history of the use of illusions in military intelligence and the second half is the document by the CIA. There is a lot of repetition and quite a lot of dull content. It's not an exciting reveal of secrets that I was expecting.

Not one that I would really recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars James Bond Meets Houdini?, 28 Nov. 2010
By 
Mr. M. A. Reed (Argleton, GB) - See all my reviews
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In teh age of false flag and recreations, this could be, for all I know, a cheeky alternate history where no such manual actually ever existed. Nonetheless, if this is real - and one wonders where the CIA Manuals of 2003 will be reprinted in 2047 - it shows a fascinating, outdated insight into a world that was very real for very few people and unknown to almost everyone else. However, if nothing else, this curious mix of magicians tricks of psychological targeting, sleight of hand, trickery, decpetion, entry level 'magic' is, if you want to cast your own personal life as a 1978 spy thriller with Gene Hackman, probably ideal. For example, were you to go to the shops and try some of these, you might get nicked by the store detective.

"Special Aspects For Deception of Women" is a curious chapter. Every man with even the most basic element of seductive power might know a few of these without actually consciously knowing so. Nonetheless, it's an ideal stocking filler for the Christmas market to be dipped in and out of with ease and devoured over years. For the man in your life who has seen too many James Bond movies - or maybe not enough of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but limited appeal, 12 Dec. 2010
By 
Cheshire Cat (Warrington, Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a reproduction of the information given to CIA agents on how to undertake various close quarter actions,a lot of which are what one would consider to represent true old fashioned secret agent methodology.

The bulk of the book is given over to a reproduction detailed instruction written with the assistance of one of America's leading magicians of the time who advised on how to undertake sleight to distract the target's attention whilst the agent did what he had to do!

It can therefore be rather technical in approach and the introduction to the book is perhaps the most interesting particularly giving the background to the original volume and the involvement of John Mulholland, the magician.

Trainee magicians will probably love this book whilst those with an interest in the early development of the CIA will also find the insight into methodology fascinating.

Anyone else will probably give it a cursory look and not go back to it but, for the right person,this will be a great gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly boring, 9 Dec. 2010
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Clever Spud (Birmingham) - See all my reviews
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The first seventy or so pages of this book serve as an introduction to the famed CIA manual that makes up the bulk of the book.

This manual, intended to instruct agents in the field how to, amongst other things, surreptitiously drop a pill into your target's drink and how to hide a variety of objects, up to and including the agent, in plain sight, was written over fifty years ago by highly regarded magician John Mulholland.

Unfortunately that first seventy pages of introduction is the best part of the book, offering as it does a potted history of covert operations at the time. The manual itself is a fine, well written if dry account of the mechanics of close quarter misdirection. It's just a bit dull.

Save your money, or put it towards a copy of the Our Man Flint DVD, which is wildly more entertaining.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tips on covert operations: yes please, 15 Oct. 2010
Any book with the words 'trickery and deception' in the title is bound to grab my attention, and the CIA Manual did not disappoint. I bought this book as a last-minute gift and couldn't help but get stuck into it. I had no idea that the CIA were in cahoots with America's most famous magician. The manual is quite staggering -- from tips on how to use cigarette papers for surreptitious notes, to hiding powder in the eraser-tip or a pencil and loads more. Favourite section: Surreptitious Removal of Objects by Women. Look out boys: I might not be armed with a gun, but I now have the skills of a professional trickster!
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