Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach

America's Techno-Spy Empire

Kristie Macrakis

An eye-opening account of the perils of America’s techno-spy empire
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An eye-opening account of the perils of America’s techno-spy empire

Ever since the earliest days of the Cold War, American intelligence agencies have launched spies in the sky, implanted spies in the ether, burrowed spies underground, sunk spies in the ocean, and even tried to control spies’ minds by chemical means. But these weren’t human spies. Instead, the United States expanded its reach around the globe through techno-spies.

Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach investigates how America’s technophiles inadvertently created a global espionage empire: one based on technology, not land. Author Kristie Macrakis shows how in the process of staking out the globe through technology, US intelligence created the ability to collect a massive amount of data. But did it help? Featuring the sites visited during her research and stories of the people who created the techno-spy empire, Macrakis guides the reader from its conception in the 1950s to its global reach in the Cold War and Global War on Terror.

In an age of ubiquitous technology, Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach exposes the perils of relying too much on technology while demonstrating how the US carried on the tradition of British imperial espionage. Readers interested in the history of espionage and technology as well as those who work in the intelligence field will find the revelations and insights in Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach fascinating and compelling.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
I. Foundations
1. The Days of Mata Hari are Over (An Origin Story)
2. Can a Tunnel Become a Double Agent?
3. In the Mind
II. Going Global
4. Our Machine in Havana
5. Betrayal Under the Ocean
6. Turner’s Technological Turn
III. Fully Global
7. Passing the Global Espionage Torch
8. Crypto AG
9. Global Eyes
10. A Global Killing Machine
Conclusion: Information Gluttons
About the Author


"Kristie Macrakis has written a masterful and measured survey of the US intelligence community’s love affair with technology. A must-read, not only to remind us of how important technological innovation is to national security, but also to understand the roots of American power more broadly"—Christopher R. Moran, professor of US National Security, University of Warwick

"Plumbing the cultures of science and technology in the US intelligence apparatus, this book provides a colorful survey. Attentive to the obscured topographic traces of far flung techno-spying on the ground, Macrakis convincingly argues that every jaw-dropping, convenient machine is mediated by a complex human touch. Sure to be of interest to anyone curious about the military-industrial life of data."—Andrew Friedman, John R. Coleman associate professor of history, Haverford College

"Macrakis's detailed history of US technological empire-building through espionage infrastructure provides key context for our current international technological landscape."—Mar Hicks, author of Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing,

"Experts have long noted, but never fully explained, the eclipse of HUMINT—human intelligence—by TECHINT—technical intelligence. In this wonderfully well-researched and thrillingly written book, renowned intelligence historian Kristie Macrakis provides chapter and verse on the causes, consequences, and costs of the rise of America’s global TECHINT empire."—Hugh Wilford, professor of history, California State University, Long Beach

"Macrakis offers an ambitious analysis that moves beyond the traditional ‘regimental histories’ of specific agencies and instead provides a delightfully written history that connects all aspects of United States technical intelligence. She highlights the many fascinating programs that often competed for resource, primacy, and above all a voice in the White House. This is US espionage history at its best."—Richard J. Aldrich, professor of international security, University of Warwick, author of GCHQ, University of Warick

"The chapters are easy to understand and the bibliography is excellent. Overall, this book is recommended for anyone who wants to understand espionage and technology."—CHOICE connect

"Definitively researched and documented, exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, readers with an interest in the history of espionage and technology (as well as those who work in the intelligence field) will find the revelations and insights revealed in Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach to be informative, fascinating, compelling, and alarming."—Midwest Book Review

"Macrakis provides a complex narrative weaving together multiple institutional histories of concurrent growth in a global Cold War context."—H-Sci-Med-Tech


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Kristie Macrakis is professor of the history of technology and intelligence at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the author of many other books, including Prisoners, Lovers, and Spies: The Story of Invisible Ink from Herodotus to al-Qaeda and Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy Tech World.

280 pp., 6 x 9
10 b&w photos, 9 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-1-64712-323-9
Apr 2023

280 pp., 6 x 9
10 b&w photos, 9 b&w illus.
Apr 2023

280 pp.
10 b&w photos, 9 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-1-64712-324-6
Apr 2023

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