• Spies, Lies, and Algorithms

  • The History and Future of American Intelligence
  • By: Amy B. Zegart
  • Narrated by: Amy B. Zegart
  • Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (99 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Spying has never been more ubiquitous - or less understood. The world is drowning in spy movies, TV shows, and novels, but universities offer more courses on rock and roll than on the CIA, and there are more congressional experts on powdered milk than espionage. This crisis in intelligence education is distorting public opinion, fueling conspiracy theories, and hurting intelligence policy. In Spies, Lies, and Algorithms, Amy Zegart separates fact from fiction as she offers an engaging and enlightening account of the past, present, and future of American espionage as it faces a revolution driven by digital technology.

Drawing on decades of research and hundreds of interviews with intelligence officials, Zegart provides a history of US espionage, from George Washington's Revolutionary War spies to today's spy satellites; examines how fictional spies are influencing real officials; gives an overview of intelligence basics and life inside America's intelligence agencies; explains the deadly cognitive biases that can mislead analysts; and explores the vexed issues of traitors, covert action, and congressional oversight. Most of all, Zegart describes how technology is empowering new enemies and opportunities, and creating powerful new players, such as private citizens who are successfully tracking nuclear threats using little more than Google Earth.

©2022 Amy B. Zegart (P)2022 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Spies, Lies, and Algorithms

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Superb and insightful!

Intelligence expert Amy Zegart crisply lays out the history of the U.S. intelligence system, while at the same time looks forward at how organizations like the CIA need to adapt to new technologies like AI or risk falling behind. This is a must read/listen to for anyone interested in public affairs and the implications of technology and how we can prevent conflict.

5 people found this helpful

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Too political

I was expecting a fair and unbiased analysis of the intelligence community. But the author wastes too much time attacking Trump. Wish the author just stuck to the subject matter.

4 people found this helpful

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Future Shock on Steroids

Not a moment to kick back and doze off during this trip around, in, through and then to the future of espionage. I know that’s a broad term. Just listen to this superb narration of a complex reality and how technology, AI is the new ARMS RACE. Fascinating.

1 person found this helpful

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Bad

Thought it would be much better. I also thought it wasn’t very current and as a past government engineer it was not a particularly good evaluation. I didn’t listen to it all. I just got tired of it.

1 person found this helpful

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Not what I was hoping for

I had heard an interview with the author and the book sounded like it would delve into the history of spying and show what it really involved, as opposed to what we generally see on TV and in the movies.
The book does that to some degree, but it's very biased for what should be a scholarly work.

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An interesting look into a normally closed world.

Mrs. Zegart does an excellent job in explaining the world of intelligence and its often complicated operations. Written in an easy to understand, no nonsense manner that was an enjoyable read. Worth the time investment to read and a must read for anyone remotely involved in the intelligence community.

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Good overview

Above all is good book, but the naivete theme that cover US government and companies is clear

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Also presented elsewhere better

All the content in this book has been covered better by other authors. Opinions are offered over facts and the facts don’t substantiate the opinions. She has accolades for Clapper and distain for Snowden. One lives in exile in Russia for expressing a clear moral imperative for privacy. The other, a confirmed liar before Congress on issues of privacy. The latter was also a new kind of tra$h - the kind taken out by president Donald Trump. Repeat this 100 times and you have this this book.

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Great for beginners, a little dry for 2022

The author does an excellent job introducing many of the threats and challenges to modern intelligence, informed by her years of work adjacent to the intelligence community.

The issue I had was this book could have been written 5 years ago with the same information, or even earlier. Most of the examples used are repeated multiple times (I.e. Stuxnet, China’s OPM hack, Russia’s election interference) and often make the same point several times throughout the book, making the reader think “wait, didn’t you already say that?”

Despite the dead horse being beaten with some pretty widely used and commonly known examples, I’d say the author did an excellent job organizing the flow and performing the reading. Would recommend overall.

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superb history and analysis

the challenges of knowing what's benign and what's malignant in information warfare, full of insights from corporate, political, and academic perspectives

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  • Moneenroe
  • 05-30-22

Tremendously Informative.

Brilliant research. Amy's narration is easy to listen to and holds your attention. Congratulations on a great piece of work.

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  • Gareth
  • 04-29-22

Good book

It’s a good listen, but there is a lot of repetitive narrative and use of same examples throughout the book. Unfortunately that had me just wanting to get it over with by the last handful of chapters.

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  • Curtis Houghton
  • 03-24-22

Well worth the listen

Great overview of how intelligence works and everything fits together in the modern world. Well worth listening to!