How to be a Spy: The World War II SOE Training Manual and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

How to be a Spy: The World War II SOE Training Manual Paperback – Apr 1 2004

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
CDN$ 26.64 CDN$ 27.98

Product Details

Product Description


In the early years of World War II, Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up top secret training schools to instruct prospective agents in the art of being a spy. By the end of 1941, an international network of schools was in operation in secluded locations ranging from the Scottish Highlands to Singapore and Canada. How to Be a Spy reproduces the extensive training manuals used to prepare agents for their highly dangerous missions behind enemy lines. The courses cover a variety of clandestine skills including disguise, surveillance, burglary, interrogation, close combat, and assassination - everything needed to wreak havoc in occupied Europe.

Secret History Files is an exciting series from The National Archives that puts covert history in readers' hands. Dossiers previously classified as 'Top Secret' are now available, with an introduction and background analysis by expert historians.

About the Author

Denis Rigden was engaged in information and historical research for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for over 30 years. He is the author of Kill the Fuhrer: Section X and Operation Foley, and has in recent years made a study of the SOE.

Inside This Book

(Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
By T.A.L. Dozer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would have given this 5 stars but, the description for this book failed to say that it is the soft cover re-titled, reprinted version of the 2001 hard cover book "SOE Syllabus - Lessons in ungentlemanly warfare, World War II" by Denis Rigden. I have bought so many books that have been reprinted and re-titled and it just fires me up. So be aware so you do not waste unnecessary money like I did. As for the content, the book is declassified training notes, outlines and instruction in the many facets of secret warfare. Some of the subjects are;

Irregular Warfare

Disguise Techniques


Agent recruiting



Agent Covers

Agent Cell organization





Codes And Ciphers

Secret Inks

Fieldcraft and Tracking


Hand-to-Hand Combat

Weapons Training

Physical Training

This is just a sample of the material covered. This book is ideal for researches, historians and military enthusiasts. This is the same program of instruction that the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the CIA and Green Berets) was trained with at Camp-X in Canada. Great historical source.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It is an excellent historical document Jan. 1 2013
By Chu Te - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a reprint of an actual manual used to train Special Operations Executive (SOE)and Office of Strategic Services(OSS)personnel during the Second World War.

This book is a look at espionage and sabotage training 70 years ago, and it reflects that era.

As a historian and military scientist I can recommend this book to individual World War II enthusiasts, and to students of military and espionage history as a reference and guide which accurately reflects the era and the training syllabus of the period. And I can recommend that every library buy a copy for its collection of accurate works on espionage and military history.

The course work would be similar to that taught by the NKVD and COMINTERN of the Soviet Union, similar to the training of German agents, and similar to that training of the Japanese Nakano Spy School. The book reflects the basics of being a 1930s-1940s spy trained in war time.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Incomplete, needs drawings and other illustrations. Aug. 12 2013
By DaveS - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was very incomplete and the drawings or illustrations were missing. Very poorly done. It was just a copy of some lecture type notes.
The beginning of modern special operations and espionage Oct. 27 2013
By Sgt. Rock - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book represents what the birth of modern special operations and intelligence services were taught during WWII by Britain's elite Special Operations Executive. During WWII Britain trained not only her own commandos and intelligence operatives but special operations soldiers and intelligence operatives from occupied Europe, north America, Israel, the Pacific and as far away as Malaya, and even Australia. Many nations of today have the British to thank for planting the seed corn that grew to be their military and intelligence services. They have the British to thank for some of their military and intelligence prowess; the Israelis and the IDF come to mind as a prime example.
Own a piece of history (reprinted) June 29 2015
By Kent Barnard - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exactly what I expected. I saw this on the documentary about the spy training camp, and thought it would be a great piece of history. The book is a scanned image of the original training manual and is printed exactly as it would have appeared in the 1940s. A fascinating look at a part of our history. I recommend it for anyone who is interested in the spy biz or history.