Hitz explores realities and myths of espionage

April 16, 2004 12:07 a.m.

A lifelong fan of spy novels, Woodrow Wilson School lecturer Fred Hitz is well versed in the characters and cases created by authors John le Carri and Graham Greene. As a long-time employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, he also knows plenty about real-life spies Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames.

Since 1999, he has combined his two interests to teach a freshman seminar at Princeton on "The Myth and Reality of Espionage." This month, his book on the same topic is being published by Knopf. It compares the writings of authors of spy novels with actual espionage cases.

A 1961 Princeton graduate, Hitz returned to the University as a lecturer in public and international affairs in 1998 after retiring from the CIA. He talked to the Princeton Weekly Bulletin about his new book, "The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage," and the rapidly changing world of intelligence gathering.

Have you ever referred to yourself as a spy?

I never have. In American parlance, I was a case officer, essentially an intelligence officer -- we gather intelligence. In the vernacular it's spy runners. The CIA has people on the ground within an organization or governmental entity in a target community; they're the spies who actually supply the information. Obviously, we all kept our eyes and ears open, but what you think of as classic espionage is performed by the people who work for the spy runners.

Read the full story in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Eric Quinones (609) 258-3601