New Review of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying

This review was posted by Indie Mine, a website dedicated to reviewing books and movies that are not typically covered by mainstream media. Read, enjoy, and check out their other reviews!


In light of recent events regarding the release of the “Torture Report” by America’s Central Intelligence Agency, I find myself in the difficult position of having to keep an objective viewpoint on the narratives given by everyone within the political sphere. It goes without saying that the contents of this latest report provide a shocking glimpse at the lack of transparency and corruption within our own system. To put it in the simplest of terms, the trust of the people is at a rather low point. Fortunately, I am not alone in working to answer the tough questions, such as “What if Harry Potter were in the CIA?” To give you an idea, we examine the work of spy novelist Lynn Boughey, and Peter Earnest, thirty-six-year CIA veteran and executive director of the International Spy Museum, in their companion guide, Harry Potter and the Art of Spying.

Due to their extensive backgrounds in the world of spycraft, it should come as no surprise that this is a subject they hold in high regard. Harry Potter and the Art of Spying examines our hero’s growth as a young recruit to a top secret covert operative from his tenure at Hogwarts. It is apparent that the writers are experts on the subject, and the extensive contributions of Courtney Klein and Nichole Ellis certainly help make the case that Harry is a damn good secret agent. The Art of Spying begins with a chapter-by-chapter analysis of Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix, the fifth book in J.K. Rowling’s seven book saga. This essentially means that the reader is expected to know all the major plot points of the series beforehand. While it may seem odd to immediately jump right in to book five without first examining the previous four entries, the concept works rather well. It is explained that Harry’s true talents as a spy don’t really hold much weight until Dumbledore’s Army and the Ministry of Magic enter the fray. The first 38 chapters (yes, 38) are littered with footnotes and endnotes, as well as personal quips from the authors; in many ways it reads more like a fun lecture than an actual textbook.

This does not necessarily mean that everything from Sorcerer’s Stone to Goblet of Fire received the axe, however. Notes are scattered throughout the text that provide insight, direct quotes, and even sourced page numbers for reference. In the early chapters we are told that Harry’s skills at reading facial expressions are an absolute necessity in the world of spying, and his interactions with the looming shadow that is the Ministry of Magic paint a pretty clear picture of how interactions between agencies in the wizarding world accurately reflect our own. The real star of the show is Professor Snape, however. Fans of the series are well aware that our grumpy Master of Potions turned out to be one of the greatest Double Agents in the genre. Without getting into the hows and whys, I can say that Boughey and Earnest’s explanations are certainly worth considering the next time you reread… Or re-reread, or re-re-reread the series. Seriously, I can’t tell you why. That’s classified information. (Get it? Classified? That’s a CIA joke.)

The Art of Spying explores more than just the characters, too. What really makes this worth reading is the detail into the actual world of Harry Potter. The Aurors, the Dementors, the Ministry itself, etc. all have a role to play. Each agency has its own rich history, and it is certainly refreshing to see a companion book that delves deeper into the witching well. Another interesting aspect to consider is that the authors are well aware that J.K. Rowling probably didn’t intend for Harry and the gang to become spies. There is a sort of mentality that “If you search hard enough, you can find anything” prevalent from start to finish and the honesty is quite welcome. Included in the pages are expansive glossaries, annotations, and appendixes that are worth looking to for further information. The text itself is very easy to read and it is written in a clear, concise manner.

Misdirection, Deception, and Disguises In Harry Potter

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We’re back with a new quiz! This one will require you to remember details from ALL of the Harry Potter books. Specifically, do you know how much of a role misdirection, deception, and disguises played throughout J.K. Rowling’s beloved series? Well, you’re about to find out!

1. Why doesn’t the Elder Wand work for Voldemort the way he wants it to?


2. How does Harry mislead both Ron and Hermione before Ron’s spectacular performance at a Quidditch match in the Half Blood Prince?


3. How does Hermione mislead Umbridge when the evil Headmistress is about to punish every member of the DA for their clandestine activities?


4. Who is the very first person in the Harry Potter series to appear in disguise?


5. What DA member is in disguise in the Hog’s Head during the first DA meeting?


Did you know?

Harry Potter and the Art of Spying author Lynn Boughey adopted someone else’s identity in order to travel to Chara, Russia to research his spy novel Mission to Chara in 1993. He had to memorize his taxi driver’s passport and pretend not to understand the train conductress when she asked for identification. You don’t have to be a spy to use misdirection, deception, and disguises!

The Leaky Diary: Day 5


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Just in case you haven’t read The Leaky Diary: Day 1The Leaky Diary: Day 2, The Leaky Diary: Day 3, or The Leaky Diary: Day 4, my name is Kelsey and I got the chance of a lifetime to attend LeakyCon in Orlando Florida with Harry Potter and the Art of Spying authors Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest. This is my Leaky Diary where I explore some of my favorite parts of the experience, give some vacation advice to those interested in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and thank all of the wonderful people that made the trip a fantastic success!*

*Unlike Tom Riddle’s Diary, the goal of this blog series is not to convince you to open a secret chamber, kill a bunch of students, or do anything equally nefarious. I just want to tell my story. Still, as Arthur Weasley says, “never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”

A week ago today the Harry Potter and the Art of Spying authors gave their presentation at LeakyCon. Whew! It’s hard to believe that it all went by so fast! Since I helped run the PowerPoint, I sat up front and got to be just as nervous as the authors. Turns out, when you let smart people talk to other smart people about something everyone loves, the presentation goes pretty well.

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My Favorite Moments:

  1. Discussing the relationship between the disguises in Harry Potter and disguises used by real spies. Peter mentioned that the best disguises are ones that can be donned and removed very quickly. Turns out, the CIA actually hired John Chambers, the make up artist who worked on Planet of the Apes, to teach them make up techniques for their disguises. So now you know, it’s better to be an animagus or to have an invisibility cloak than to try to use polyjuice potion all the time!
  2. Watching the movie clip in which Harry learns all about Snape’s sacrifices through the Pensieve. The whole room fell absolutely silent for the movie and then erupted into applause. It was a fantastic way to end the presentation.

“After all this time? Always.”

3.  Giving away free stuff during our trivia challenge! We stumped some people with the question “On which floor and behind which tapestry is the Room of Requirement? Too bad they hadn’t been reading the trivia on our blog! There were some potterheads who knew almost everything though. Our tie breaker was the code from the cover of our book, which we discuss in this blog. 

Although we were sad to see the end of LeakyCon, the Esther Day Charity Ball was the perfect way to ring in the final day. I am not a huge party person, but it was wonderful to see so many happy people in one place.

This may be the last Leaky Diary, but don’t worry, you’ll hear much more from the authors and me in the coming month. The book will be released worldwide on September 8th after a fantastic launch at the International Spy Museum. Do you have questions about LeakyCon, Harry Potter World, or Harry Potter and the Art of Spying? Post them in the comments or ask the authors!