The Life-Changing Magic of a Great Disguise

You may think of magicians as entertainers at children’s birthday parties, or the characters in the Harry Potter universe. But historically, some magicians have had very serious jobs, including John Mulholland, who was on staff at the Central Intelligence Agency. 

It makes sense if you think about it. Like magicians, spies need to do a job without anyone noticing. Stealth, sleight of hand, and distraction are all tools that both professions use. This line of reasoning is how the CIA came to hire magicians like Mulholland to school its agents in professional trickery in the 1950s. 

Mulholland was paid the princely sum of $3,000 to develop a secret manual of tips and tricks for spies, including hand-drawn illustrations. All copies had been destroyed by 1973, or so the legend went. When two researchers found the document in 2007, it revealed the fascinating connection between the worlds of magic and espionage. 

Learn how to fool your own friends and enemies with our Instaread on The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception

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