100 books like Wilderness of Mirrors

By David C. Martin,

Here are 100 books that Wilderness of Mirrors fans have personally recommended if you like Wilderness of Mirrors. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered the CIA

Steve Vogel Author Of Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War's Most Audacious Espionage Operation

From my list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and veteran journalist who reported for The Washington Post for more than two decades, and I write frequently about military history and intelligence. My father worked for the CIA, and I was born in Berlin when he was stationed there as a case officer. Later I was based in Germany as a foreign correspondent when the Berlin Wall came down. So it’s not too surprising that I am interested in Cold War espionage and history. As a reporter, author, and reader, I’ve always been attracted to stories off the beaten track, the ones that most people know little or nothing about. 

Steve's book list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage

Steve Vogel Why did Steve love this book?

David Wise was the dean of American espionage writers, the author of more than a dozen well-regarded books about spies before his death in 2018, and Molehunt is my favorite. It tells the story of the James Angleton-inspired to hunt for a supposed mole within the CIA, an enormously damaging affair that paralyzed the agency for years. Wise’s books are so authoritative because of the unmatched sources he had in the intelligence community.

By David Wise,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Molehunt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Details the obsessive internal spy hunt reminiscent of the McCarthy era lead by CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton after he was lead astray by former KGB officer Anatoly Golitsin. 25,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo. Tour.


Book cover of Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed

Steve Vogel Author Of Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War's Most Audacious Espionage Operation

From my list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and veteran journalist who reported for The Washington Post for more than two decades, and I write frequently about military history and intelligence. My father worked for the CIA, and I was born in Berlin when he was stationed there as a case officer. Later I was based in Germany as a foreign correspondent when the Berlin Wall came down. So it’s not too surprising that I am interested in Cold War espionage and history. As a reporter, author, and reader, I’ve always been attracted to stories off the beaten track, the ones that most people know little or nothing about. 

Steve's book list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage

Steve Vogel Why did Steve love this book?

Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Verterfeuille were part of the CIA team that identified Aldrich Ames, perhaps the most damaging spy in the agency’s history. Not only is the book a riveting account of the detective work that went into Ames’ arrest, it provides a wealth of information about the valuable agents and operations that he betrayed, and the incalculable damage he caused, including the loss of GRU General Dmitriy Polyakov, the highest-ranking spy run by the U.S. during the Cold War.

By Sandra Grimes, Jeanne Vertefeuille,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Circle of Treason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While there have been other books about Aldrich Ames, Circle of Treason is the first account written by CIA agents who were key members of the CIA team that conducted the intense "Ames Mole Hunt." Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille were two of the five principals of the CIA team tasked with hunting one of their own and were directly responsible for identifying Ames as the mole, leading to his arrest and conviction.

One of the most destructive traitors in American history, CIA officer Aldrich Ames provided information to the Soviet Union that contributed to the deaths of at least…


Book cover of The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal

Steve Vogel Author Of Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War's Most Audacious Espionage Operation

From my list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and veteran journalist who reported for The Washington Post for more than two decades, and I write frequently about military history and intelligence. My father worked for the CIA, and I was born in Berlin when he was stationed there as a case officer. Later I was based in Germany as a foreign correspondent when the Berlin Wall came down. So it’s not too surprising that I am interested in Cold War espionage and history. As a reporter, author, and reader, I’ve always been attracted to stories off the beaten track, the ones that most people know little or nothing about. 

Steve's book list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage

Steve Vogel Why did Steve love this book?

Hoffman tells the previously little-known story of Soviet military engineer Adolf Tolkachev, whose disgust with the communist regime inspired him to turn over enormously valuable secrets to the CIA station in Moscow beginning in the late 1970s. Hoffman’s careful reporting allows him to describe in meticulous and fascinating detail the remarkable techniques and great risks involved in running an agent in Moscow late in the Cold War.

By David E. Hoffman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Billion Dollar Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WATERSTONES NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH AUGUST 2018 AND A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'An astonishingly detailed picture of espionage in the 1980s, written with pacey journalistic verve and an eerily contemporary feel.' Ben Macintyre, The Times

'A gripping story of courage, professionalism, and betrayal in the secret world.' Rodric Braithwaite, British Ambassador in Moscow, 1988-1992

'One of the best spy stories to come out of the Cold War and all the more riveting for being true.' Washington Post

January, 1977. While the chief of the CIA's Moscow station fills his gas tank, a stranger drops a note into the car.…


Book cover of The Spy Who Saved the World: How a Soviet Colonel Changed the Course of the Cold War

Steve Vogel Author Of Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War's Most Audacious Espionage Operation

From my list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and veteran journalist who reported for The Washington Post for more than two decades, and I write frequently about military history and intelligence. My father worked for the CIA, and I was born in Berlin when he was stationed there as a case officer. Later I was based in Germany as a foreign correspondent when the Berlin Wall came down. So it’s not too surprising that I am interested in Cold War espionage and history. As a reporter, author, and reader, I’ve always been attracted to stories off the beaten track, the ones that most people know little or nothing about. 

Steve's book list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage

Steve Vogel Why did Steve love this book?

Schecter, a journalist, and Deriabin, a KGB officer who defected to the U.S., tell the inside story of Oleg Penkovsky, the history-changing Soviet GRU colonel who delivered critical information that helped the CIA and President John F. Kennedy avoid nuclear disaster during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The inside account delivers fascinating details about Penkovsky’s motivations, actions, and tragic demise, as well as a gripping narration of how the CIA handled one of the Cold War’s most important intelligence operations.

By Jerrold L. Schecter, Peter S. Deriabin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spy Who Saved the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Examines how Oleg Penkovsky provided U.S. intelligence with data on Soviet nuclear capabilities


Book cover of MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949

Helen Fry Author Of Mi9: A History of the Secret Service for Escape and Evasion in World War Two

From my list on intelligence and espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

Historian Dr. Helen Fry has written numerous books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans who fought for Britain, and also British intelligence, espionage and WWII. She is the author of the bestselling book The Walls have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of WWII which was one of the Daily Mail’s top 8 Books of the Year for War. She has written over 25 books – including The London Cage about London’s secret WWII Interrogation Centre. Her latest book is MI9: The British Secret Service for Escape & Evasion in WWII – the first history of MI9 for 40 years. Helen has appeared in numerous TV documentaries, including David Jason’s Secret Service, Spying on Hitler’s Army, and Home Front Heroes on BBC1. Helen is an ambassador for the Museum of Military Intelligence, and President of the Friends of the National Archives. 


Helen's book list on intelligence and espionage

Helen Fry Why did Helen love this book?

The Secret Intelligence Service, SIS and also known now as MI6, is one of Britain’s most secret organisations, and as such has provoked intrigue, mystique, and fascination; all partly fuelled by Ian Fleming’s successful James Bond novels. But whilst there is some crossover at points with the fictional world, the official history makes it plain that much of its work was mundane. That does not lessen our interest in the organisation. This book provides the first authorised recognition that SIS existed, but also the first glimpse into its clandestine activities. Told chronologically rather than thematically, there is a sense of the developing history of the organisation, from the threats in 1909, through to the deceptions and counter-espionage ops of the First and Second World Wars to 1949 (the start of the early Cold War). The book is the first insight into some of the central characters – those who can…

By Keith Jeffery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked MI6 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking book, this unprecedented study is the
authoritative account of the best-known intelligence organisation in the
world. Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of
espionage, the two world wars, modern British government and the conduct
of international relations in the first half of the twentieth century, MI6:
The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 is a
uniquely important examination of the role and significance of
intelligence in the modern world.


Book cover of Funeral in Berlin

Stephen Holgate Author Of Tangier

From my list on spies and intrigue.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always loved spy stories. The best offer complex characters, exotic locales, suspense, and stakes higher than any detective story. I got to know quite a few CIA types during my foreign service career. Some became good friends. I never asked them about their work, but once or twice passed a tidbit their way. Once, the local KGB got the notion I was with the CIA or was somehow prone to persuasion. They were all over me for weeks, making me extremely uncomfortable. The station chief held my hand throughout. So, while I can’t claim a lot of personal knowledge, I’ve had a touch. Here’s my list of favorite spy stories.

Stephen's book list on spies and intrigue

Stephen Holgate Why did Stephen love this book?

Though Deighton has gone on to write several hugely popular and better-known spy stories, none of them beats Funeral In Berlin for sheer fun. Narrated by its nameless, smart-ass protagonist, who works for an obscure and underfunded British intelligence agency, the book has all the Cold War suspense, plot twists, and dubious characters you could wish for. Swiftly paced and told with great irreverent humor, it’s terrific entertainment.

By Len Deighton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Funeral in Berlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A ferociously cool Cold War thriller from the author of The Ipcress File.

Len Deighton's third novel has become a classic, as compelling and suspenseful now as when it first exploded on to the bestseller lists.

In Berlin, where neither side of the wall is safe, Colonel Stok of Red Army Security is prepared to sell an important Russian scientist to the West - for a price. British intelligence are willing to pay, providing their own top secret agent is in Berlin to act as go-between. But it soon becomes apparent that behind the facade of an elaborate mock funeral…


Book cover of Legacy

Michael Smith Author Of No Man Dies Twice

From my list on spy thrillers by former members of MI6.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former military intelligence officer who left the British Army to become a journalist, initially with the BBC, then with The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times, working as a war correspondent in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and breaking a number of key stories, including the infamous Downing St Memos which exposed the truth about the intelligence that led to the 2003 war in Iraq. I have written a number of books on intelligence, including the UK number one bestseller Station X and the New York Times bestseller Killer Elite.

Michael's book list on spy thrillers by former members of MI6

Michael Smith Why did Michael love this book?

My selections are based on good writing and authenticity, even Fleming peppered his Bond books with elements of the real thing that no one but insiders would know, like ‘M’ writing his memos in green ink on blue notepaper. Alan Judd who served as a British army officer before joining MI6 has written a series of books about Charles Thoroughgood, a former army officer who like Judd himself ‒ his real name is Alan Petty ‒ then joined MI6. Every one of them is a gem, reeking of authenticity. A former colleague of Judd even told me that one of his books was based on a real case. He knew because he shared an office with the author at the time! Judd is by far the best of the current bunch!

By Alan Judd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Legacy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charles Thorougood is an agent of MI6 working in London during the Cold War, with a young Soviet assistant. Unexpectedly he learns of a strange legacy left to him by his estranged father, the implications of which are much darker than expected at first. The first novel in a spy trilogy.


Book cover of Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton - The CIA's Master Spy Hunter

Hugh Wilford Author Of The CIA: An Imperial History

From my list on history about the CIA.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a British-born American historian, currently residing in Long Beach, California. I’ve published four books on the CIA and lectured about it for the Great Courses. Why spies? I’ve always loved spy novels and movies but my historical interest was piqued years ago when I stumbled across the weird story of how the CIA secretly funded various American artists and writers in the so-called Cultural Cold War. Decades on, I’m still fascinated by the subject: there’s so much human drama involved, and it’s a great lens through which to examine recent American and world history.

Hugh's book list on history about the CIA

Hugh Wilford Why did Hugh love this book?

The history of the CIA features many fascinating personalities and there are several excellent spy biographies, Thomas Powers on Richard Helms, for example, or Randall Woods on William Colby. But the most complex and compelling of all figures in the Agency’s past must surely be the legendary head of counterintelligence, James Angleton. Again, there are numerous works on Angleton and his obsessive hunt for a top-level Soviet agent in the CIA, but I enjoyed and benefited most from Tom Mangold’s Cold Warrior, an astonishingly detailed and penetrating portrayal of America’s real-life George Smiley.

By Tom Mangold,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cold Warrior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A biography of the spymaster who ran the CIA's counterintelligence operation for twenty years until his downfall


Book cover of Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World's Best Writers

David A. Taylor Author Of Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II

From my list on spies and espionage in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child I found the history and biography books in our school library, and was enthralled. When I got older and discovered historical archives, the tension between public history in books and the secret or forgotten histories tucked away was irresistible. Writing books has taken me to five continents on journeys into everything from medicinal black markets to the traces of a wartime commercial spy network. For my latest book, digging through classified OSS files showed me what amazing stories still lie waiting for us.

David's book list on spies and espionage in WW2

David A. Taylor Why did David love this book?

Whitney gives a literary coda to World War II cloak-and-dagger, showing how its nests of spies and agencies pivoted and metastasised in the years afterward into the Cold War. The CIA took up where the OSS left off. Where Graham Greene and Kim Philby had run the haunts of Lisbon, then-young writers George Plimpton and Peter Matthiessen were cajoled to produce cultural propaganda in Paris and start the Paris Review. The CIA's literary operations continued into the 1960s when it launched a whispering campaign to prevent Pablo Neruda from receiving a Nobel prize, and launched Mundo Nuevo to engage Spanish-language readers.

By Joel Whitney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When news broke that the CIA had colluded with literary magazines to produce cultural propaganda throughout the Cold War, a debate began that has never been resolved. The story continues to unfold, with the reputations of some of America's best-loved literary figures-including Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, and Richard Wright-tarnished as their work for the intelligence agency has come to light.

Finks is a tale of two CIAs, and how they blurred the line between propaganda and literature. One CIA created literary magazines that promoted American and European writers and cultural freedom, while the other toppled governments, using assassination and censorship…


Book cover of The Secret Lovers

Stephen Holgate Author Of Tangier

From my list on spies and intrigue.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always loved spy stories. The best offer complex characters, exotic locales, suspense, and stakes higher than any detective story. I got to know quite a few CIA types during my foreign service career. Some became good friends. I never asked them about their work, but once or twice passed a tidbit their way. Once, the local KGB got the notion I was with the CIA or was somehow prone to persuasion. They were all over me for weeks, making me extremely uncomfortable. The station chief held my hand throughout. So, while I can’t claim a lot of personal knowledge, I’ve had a touch. Here’s my list of favorite spy stories.

Stephen's book list on spies and intrigue

Stephen Holgate Why did Stephen love this book?

Almost criminally neglected, McCarry is the greatest American espionage writer. After serving for ten years as an elite deep-cover agent for the CIA, no one could better write of the “long, twilight struggle” of the Cold War. McCarry doesn’t write thrillers, but spare, character-driven stories about spies and the morally treacherous world in which they work. The Secret Lovers is an absorbing tale of betrayal and a relentless, perilous search for truth. McCarry’s masterpiece.

By Charles McCarry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Lovers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Minutes after the handoff, the courier’s spine is neatly snapped by an impact with a passing black sedan. Meanwhile in Rome, Christopher's wife Cathy takes a famous film director as a lover to stir her husband out of the stoicism that defines his personality. These two seemingly discrete events set in motion a spiral of operational and personal intrigue that leads Christopher from meetings with an aging agent in the cafes of old Europe to a rendezvous with an operative on the front lines of the Cold War in the Congo as he secretly arranges the publication of a novel…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Cold War, intelligence services, and the CIA?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Cold War, intelligence services, and the CIA.

The Cold War Explore 243 books about the Cold War
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The CIA Explore 129 books about the CIA