Daily Meme: Spy Games

  • Cold War nostalgia is hot these days. Everyone who's anyone is watching The Americans, FX's taut drama about Soviet sleeper cell spies living in the the suburbs of Washington, D.C., during the 1980s, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their kids by day and carrying out hits by night. Vladimir Putin got geopolitcally retro with his annexation of Crimea recently. And today we learn that there is some good old-fashioned spy bargaining afoot!
  • The New York Times reports that in a bid to ensure that the Israeli-Palestinean peace talks stay alive through 2015, the U.S. and Israel are negotiating the release of Jonathan Pollard, a former American Naval intelligence analyst who was convicted of giving secrets to the Israeli government. Which got us thinking about our favorite spy stories through the years ...
  • Since we've been watcing the aforementioned The Americans, we'll kick off with the Russian agents. There's of course The Rosenbergs—Ethel and Julius—who were executed for espionage in 1953. Their trial was famous, coming in the midst of American anti-communist hysteria, and there were efforts to clear their names both in the U.S. and abroad. 
  • Aldrich Hazens Borne, a CIA analyst, was sentenced to life in prison in 1994 for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia beginning in 1985.
  • In 2010, the FBI arrested 11 Russian agents who had been living covertly in the U.S. including Anna Chapman, a real-life femme fatale who milked her fame, tabloid-style
  • The most famous of the femme fatales is Mata Hari, a former courtesan and exotic dancer (she has great Google image search results). She was arrested by the French government and executed in 1917 for spying for the Germans, though as it turns out, she might have been innocent.  
  • As a side note, women are thought to generally make excellent spies.
  • Nathan Hale was a Revolutiouary War spy for the colonies. He was caught and killed by the British in 1776. 
  • Belle Boyd, "the Siren of the Shenandoah," was a teenage spy for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Despite being on the wrong side of things, she seems to have been quite the lively one: "she charged $3 to carry letters across the lines and $2 for liquor, and once attacked a Confederate soldier who refused to pay for his bottle (30 rebel men were badly wounded in the ensuing brawl)." She survived the war, and cannily embarked on a book tour shortly thereafter. 
 

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