Chatter

Share

Spy Thriller Fiction vs. Fact with Brad Thor

Season 1, Ep. 38

Brad Thor is a #1 New York Times bestselling author who has more than twenty thrillers behind him and shows no signs of slowing down. Rising Tiger, just published on July 5, 2022, yet again places his franchise hero - former world-class skier, Navy SEAL, Secret Service agent, and private intelligence operative Scot Harvath - into deadly situations backlit by realistic geopolitical developments. How does Thor come up with his plots full of international intrigue and his detailed settings for Harvath's globetrotting adventures?


Some of it comes from his parents, a US Marine and a flight attendant. Some of it comes from his personal experience before becoming a full-time novelist. Thor started out as an award-winning creator, producer, writer, and host of the critically acclaimed national public television series, Traveling Lite; since then, he has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Red Cell Unit and shadowed a Black Ops team in Afghanistan.


Thor joined David Priess to discuss these questions and much more. They talked about how Thor's writing career started, the work of Secret Service agents, rebuilding trust in American institutions, US-Indian relations, the perils of rising partisan extremism in what Thor calls the "political-entertainment complex," how to write realistic descriptions of widely varied international locations, the value of bad-ass women characters, how he keeps current on geopolitical developments, how and why he places easter eggs in his novels, his encounters with celebrities from George Clinton to Michael Hayden to Mandy Patinkin, and the value of writing fiction by the seat of your pants.


Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.


Among the works discussed in this episode:


More Episodes

9/22/2022

Josephine Baker, Singer and Spy, with Damien Lewis

Season 1, Ep. 49
In her day, Josephine Baker was one of the most famous women in the world. Fans recognized the superstar singer, actress, and dancer everywhere she went, particularly on the streets of Paris, where she often walked a pet cheetah on a diamond leash. Why would anyone think such a conspicuous person might make the perfect spy? Author Damien Lewis set out to answer that question in his latest book, “Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy.” It chronicles Baker’s remarkable career as an agent for French counterintelligence during WWII. Baker participated in numerous clandestine missions, and her work informed British and U.S. intelligence as well. Baker left the United States in the Jim Crow era and was embraced by French audiences. But she became a target of Nazi propagandists. When Germany invaded France, Baker devoted herself to the Resistance and the Allies’ cause. It turned out that her performing talents were well suited to work as an intelligence agent. Baker used her connections to get close to Axis VIPs, including in the Italian government, who didn’t know she was passing valuable details from their conversations back to her French compatriots. She used her extraordinary fame as a cover, at times hiding secret documents practically in plain sight while on tour. Lewis and Shane Harris discussed Baker’s remarkable and little known espionage career, which reveals much about the inner life of one of the 20th Century’s biggest stars. Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.Among the works mentioned in this episode:Damien Lewis’ book, “Agent Josephine:” https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/damien-lewis/agent-josephine/9781541700666/ Lewis’ other books” https://damienlewis.com/books/ Lewis on Twitter: https://twitter.com/authordlewis Baker and Lewis in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/08/15/josephine-baker-was-the-star-france-wanted-and-the-spy-it-needed-damien-lewis-agent-josephine Baker inducted into the Pantheon: https://www.npr.org/2021/11/30/1059776777/josephine-baker-france-pantheon 
9/15/2022

CIA Paramilitary Ops in Reality and Fiction

Season 1, Ep. 48
Of all of the Central Intelligence Agency's activities, paramilitary operations might remain the least understood. This, in part, is both a cause and a consequence of inaccurate portrayals of such work in prominent movies; it's also because fewer memoirs come from the CIA's Special Activities Division than from traditional human intelligence collectors and from analysts. David Priess chatted with former CIA officer Ric Prado about the fiction and the reality of CIA paramilitary operations, including stories Ric tells in his book Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior. They spoke about what Hollywood gets wrong about intelligence work, Ric's escape as a child from Castro's Cuba, his path to a CIA career, differences between paramilitary operations and intelligence collection, his years of work with the Contras in Central America, the Counterterrorist Center (CTC) at CIA before and on 9/11, the work ethic in CTC after 9/11, why his book has substantial chunks of redacted text, and who he thinks played the best James Bond.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by David Priess with Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo, with additional editing by Cara Shillenn. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. Among the works mentioned in this episode:The book Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior by Ric PradoThe film ArgoThe film Three Days of the CondorThe Jason Bourne filmsThe film True LiesThe Mission Impossible filmsThe James Bond films
9/8/2022

Spying in the NFL with Kevin Bryant

Season 1, Ep. 47
You don't have to look very far under the surface of the average game in the National Football League to find cloak-and-dagger machinations worthy of governmental intelligence agencies. During the past several decades, teams have used both myriad spying tactics to gain extra advantages and extensive counterintelligence techniques to thwart them. The line between traditional espionage and NFL methods is surprisingly thin.David Priess chatted with author Kevin Bryant about historical and present-day examples of it all, building on Kevin's new book Spies on the Sidelines: The High-Stakes World of NFL Espionage. They discussed known cases of spying before and during the draft, extraordinary means of collecting information about opposing teams' practices and playbooks, common countermeasures of security officers employed by various teams, attempts to intercept signals and play calls, electronic interference with headset communications, locker room spies, evolving league rules about dirty tricks, and the ethics of it all. And, of course, a conversation about covert action in the NFL wouldn't be complete without attention to the recent twin scandals involving the New England Patriots, Spygate and Deflategate.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by David Priess, with editing by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.