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Title: Harry Potter and the Art of Spying
Author: Lynn M. Boughey and Peter Earnest
This review is of an ARC. Purchase the book September 15th at these links:
Amazon. The International Spy Museum (Available now!). Itasca Books. Hooray for Books. Red Lodge Books.
Goodreads. Official Website.
Summary: The Harry Potter series is more than just a story about a young wizard who saves the world from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The seven-book saga is an excellent primer on spying, intelligence, and politics. Join spy novelist Lynn Boughey and thirty-six-year CIA veteran and executive director of the International Spy Museum Peter Earnest as they review the spy craft employed and celebrated in J.K. Rowling’s bestselling books. From the invisibility cloak to house passwords to Fred and George Weasley’s Extendable Ears, “Harry Potter & the Art of Spying” is full of spy lessons for the secret-agent-in-training in the Muggle realm. Learn how to break secret codes, gather intelligence, read character’s motives, and why Severus Snape is the best double agent ever.
Genre/Pages: Fantasy Analysis/Espionage non-fiction/632
Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 of 5)
A Quote: “Severus Snape was perhaps the best spy ever portrayed in literature. But we must remember that there are real spies out there, spies who take all the risks, perhaps more than Snape did. The World is full of risk. It is a very dangerous place. Only through information can our leaders make the right decisions.
And information is hard to come by.
Countries hide what they are doing. Leaders make statements that are intentionally false. And informants are often untrustworthy or just plain wrong.
It is spies — and intelligence analysts — who derive truth from a blurry world.” ~pg 541 of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying.
My Review: When I first heard about this book I was sitting on my bed listening to Alohomora! I knew as soon as I heard authors Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest analyzing Harry Potter with the Pros (read: The Alohomora! cast), that I HAD to read this book. It was a given. I had to get my hands on a copy of this book. Weeks later, after many, MANY delays and mail mix ups I finally got to hold a copy of this wondrous book in my hands. I was overjoyed. I cannot possibly fully express my thanks to Lynn, Peter, and all of the other amazing people who helped me to get an ARC of this book for review. Y’all are the best! All of this aside, however, I do consider this an unbiased review.
The first half of this book is a play-by-play analysis of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At first I was nervous. Was there REALLY enough information in OotP to create a full-on chapter-by-chapter, line-by-line, espionage analysis? Believe me, there is. Lynn and Peter will bring up points and theories I had never even considered.
The second half of this book is a series’ analysis from an espionage perspective. It focuses on the specifics of character motivation, different types of spies throughout the series, Wizard security, Magical (and muggle) means of tracking and spying, personal espionage experiences from the authors, and so much more. This was probably in some ways my favorite part of the book. Not only did you get HARRY POTTER, but you also will be absolutely astonished by how much you learn about how Muggle world spying works. It’s fascinating!
So, at this point I’m typically writing about my thoughts on the hero/heroine. Well… As you’ve probably deducted by now, there isn’t one. So I’m going to split these next two sections (Usually Hero/Heroine and Plot) into the two main focuses of the book: Harry Potter Analysis, and real life Espionage.
Harry Potter Analysis: A word about Harry Potter Analysis: HARRY POTTER ANALYSIS. (Oh, all right, that was three words!) << Did you see what I did there??? There are quite a few running jokes throughout the book, but it wasn’t annoying, actually. It was more like a smile and eyeroll type of running gags. They were legitimately amusing. Anyway, I digress. The blow-by-blow analyzing got a little bit slow at times, since I already know the series (and particularly OotP) so well, but I understand that it was necessary for the points they were trying to make. This book had many laugh out loud moments, some due to the genius of J.K. Rowling, and some to the genius of Lynn and Peter. This form of analysis, however, fully immersed you into the world and you were able to have many Ah-ha! moments of realization. No matter how many times I read the books, listen to the podcasts, or read books like this, I can ALWAYS learn new things about Harry Potter, and new mind-blowing JKR things. This is my OGM for the day. (Obligatory Genius Moment to JKR). Some might think that the book recap would get boring, but it honestly stayed pretty intriguing. In fact, I’m even more desperate to go back and re-read OotP AFTER reading this book. I love getting to see my favorite books from the eyes of someone else, and what better way to get a new perspective on my all-time-favorite book than through the eyes of a CIA veteran and a spy novelist?
Espionage: A word about Espionage: ESPIONAGE! This was absolutely fascinating — I read it in no time! The depth and detail was enthralling! You learned immense amounts about the intricate functioning of the Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic, Dumbledore’s Army, and much more. This book merely expanded upon the genius that is the world of Harry Potter, and made you understand JUST how great it REALLY is. In addition to that, with many personal stories and real-life events, you get to learn how the muggle world of espionage works, as well! It was a very enlightening read on many levels. Peter and Lynn did a fantastic job with the formatting and layout of this spectacular novel.
Content Advisory: Ummm….Nothing. Absolutely nothing inappropriate.
To Sum it Up: It’s not what I’d call an EASY read, but if you love Harry Potter, then you will love this book. If you’re intrigued by spy stories, then you will love this book. If you’re interested in the political and social themes of the Harry Potter novels, you will love this book. Written in an easy to read format, with plenty of side notes, digressions, and personal stories, you will not regret reading this book. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all Die-Hard Potterheads.
Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it?