Spy stories have always intrigued and fascinated us, as evident in the long-standing global popularity of James Bond movies. There are also numerous spy novels published each year, with millions of readers. Documentaries, TV shows, YouTube channels, etc. are other platforms that are also used to share the thrilling stories of secret agents.
All of this makes us wonder, as to who could be the smartest spy in the world. Probably some stories will never be published, which kind of makes it difficult to decide who is the smartest spy of all time. However, based on publicly available information, we can get an idea about the best spies in the world. To fix your curiosity, here’s a look at some of the smartest spies of all time.
Women spy agents are often sent to do jobs that a male spy cannot achieve. One such example is Mata Hari, who used her beauty as a tool to extract information. She is supposed to have befriended various people in power during World War I and extracted secret information from them. However, solid evidence to her involvement in espionage activities is not available.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
The couple was charged with conducting espionage activities for the Soviet Union. They had provided detailed information to the Soviet Union about the construction of the atomic bomb. All of these happened in the Cold War period. A death sentence was passed for the couple, but it was hugely opposed by the people. But the executions were carried out eventually. Their involvement became even more clear after the release of secret documents post the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union.
The Cambridge Spy Ring
Disgruntled individuals can easily be motivated to betray their country. An example is that of Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt, who worked secretly for the Soviet Union. These individuals held positions of power in the UK, while working for intelligence agencies such as MI5 and MI6. They also worked as ambassadors. All throughout, they continued to pass secret information to the Soviets.
Shi Pei Pu
Spy stories are full of deceit, but the one involving Shi Pei Pu of China is unprecedented. Working for the Chinese secret service, Shi befriended Bernard Boursicot, who worked as a clerk in the French embassy in China. He used to teach Chinese to family members of French diplomats. Shi was so smart that he even managed to convince Boursicot that he was a woman disguised as a man. This resulted in an affair that lasted for 20 years. During this time, Shi managed to access several secret documents of the French embassy from Boursicot. The couple were later arrested in 1983 and prosecuted for espionage.
American CIA analyst Aldrich Ames is considered by many as the most successful spy in the world. Although he betrayed his country by becoming a Soviet double agent, his actions had serious ramifications on operations of the CIA during the Cold War. As a CIA analyst, Aldrich was tasked with counterintelligence operations. It involved identifying Soviet spies and developing CIA assets within the Soviet Union.
However, he betrayed his country and worked to cripple CIA operations within the erstwhile Soviet Union. It is estimated that at least 10 CIA agents were killed due to secrets leaked by Aldrich Ames. Before Aldrich and his wife were arrested in 1994, it was found that they had pocketed more than $2.7 million. This was the highest amount ever given to any American spy by the Soviet Union.