Magic or spycraft? In 1953, against the backdrop of the Cold War, the CIA initiated a top-secret program, code-named MKULTRA, to counter Soviet mind-control and interrogation techniques. Realizing that clandestine officers might need to covertly deploy newly developed pills, potions, and powders against the adversary, the CIA hired America’s most famous magician, John Mulholland, to write two manuals on sleight of hand and covert communication techniques.
In 1973, virtually all documents related to MKULTRA were destroyed. Mulholland’s manuals were thought to be among them—until a single surviving copy of each, complete with illustrations, was recently discovered in the agency’s archives.
The manuals reprinted in this work represent the only known complete copy of Mulholland’s instructions for CIA officers on the magician’s art of deception and secret communications.