Harry Potter and the Art of Spying Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at hisÂ WEBSITE
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Authors: Lynn M. Boughey and Peter Earnest
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing (September 15, 2014)
When we read the Harry Potter books and enjoyed the films, most of us thought about wizards and wands and the powers of magical spells. But did you imagine you were also enjoying spy adventures with characters delving into the murky worlds of espionage? Did you think "Severus Snape was perhaps the best spy ever portrayed in literature"?
That's the thesis of spy novelist Lynn Boughey and 36-year CIA veteran and Executive Director of the International Spy Museum, Peter Earnest. They believe the Harry Potter series demonstrated many attributes of actual spycraft as they show in their Harry Potter and the Art of Spying. In particular, they use harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as a textbook study of the many aspects of espionage that J. K. Rowling wove into her books.
According to Earnest, it was Boughey who spotted parallels between Order of the Phoenix and covert actions like secret codes, secret organizations, and adversary surveillance. It was Boughey who mapped out the analysis of how these tropes can be seen in the fifth Potter novel, and brought in Earnest aboard to provide real-world examples of how such actions can be found in espionage history. As a result, publicity for The Art of Spying is spot on when it describes the book as a "primer" in spycraft as readers can see how scenes from every chapter of Order of the Phoenix have something to do with spying from recruiting double-agents, uncovering moles, to using politics and diplomacy to achieve objectives. In fact, the book serves very much as a textbook in the many arenas of espionage using Harry Potter as a touchstone to lead into discussions into actual cases and practices of spies.
Without question, readers must be familiar with the Potter books for the study to be enjoyable. The first half, the part focusing on Order of the Phoenix, requires a detailed understanding of that particular novel. Part two is a more general overview of the Potter series and is, in many ways, a more readable section. Throughout, the authors provide numerous definitions of spy terminology including a good glossary. They add sidebars which include stories from Ernest's own CIA experiences. Into the mix, the pair also point out literary parallels between Rowlings and Shakespeare.
Harry Potter and The Art of Spying is obviously an opportunity for Boughey and Earnest to interest younger readers in the world of espionage by using Potter's popularity to showcase what the real covert world involves. It's not light reading but is appropriate for a YA audience. If you want a good Spycraft 101 course in one volume, here you go.