An insider's guide to the spying game

Forget the usual exploding pens and poison-tipped umbrellas. Spycraft by Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton (Bantam Press) documents the even more bizarre and ingenious work done by the CIA's secret spy lab. The little-known Office of Technical Services has provided a constant stream of gadgets, disguises, tecniques and weapons for the CIA over the years, supplying the kit and technical backup in secret missions from Moscow to the mountains of Afghanistan. 

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Notable gizmos range from ‘The Echo 8 cigarette-lighter camera, the smallest camera commercially produced during the Cold War; the tiny ‘bullet lens’ reader that was only slightly larger than a grain of rice, but provided sufficient magnification for reading a microdot; and the Aspirin-size ‘scorch tablets’ that dissolved to produce an invisible ink for writing.

Perhaps most bizarre of all, was the use of a gutted and freeze-dried rat (bottom pic) that concealed covert communications equipment inside its torso. James Bond's Q has clearly got a lot to learn. £12.99, out now

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