• 1. Fritz Joubert Duquesne’s Revenge

    When Lord Kitchener killed Fritz Joubert Duquesne’s sister and sent his mother to a concentration camp during the Second Anglo-Boer War, Lord Kitchener was fucking with some shit that he couldn’t even comprehend.

  • Some years earlier, Duquesne had been been imprisoned by the British in an internment camp at Caldas da Rainha in Portugal. But The Black Panther – as he would later, awesomely, come to be known – had other plans.

  • After seducing the daughter of one of the guards and making his escape, Duquesne joined the British Army. Why would he do that after they had been so unpleasant to him? So that he could fuck them up. He went to Cape Town with his squadron and got to work sabotaging British military installations before being betrayed by the wife of one of his coconspirators and sentenced to death.

  • Another prison escape found him, after various other adventures, back home - where he discovered what Lord Kitchener had done to his family. This led him to become a spy for the Germans so that he could devote the rest of his life to killing the fuck out of Kitchener and any British asshole who rolled with him.

  • Never a man to do things by halves, Duquesne eventually made his move by sabotaging and sinking the HMS Hampshire, killing Kitchener and his entire crew. He was awarded the Iron Cross.

  • He later faked his own death, spent two years in prison pretending to be paralysed so that he could eventually escape from a lower security ward, and started a spy syndicate that would become one of the most effective and dangerous spy rings during the Second World War.

  • 2. Aldrich Ames Betrays Everyone He Knows

    Aldrich Ames is more of an asshole than a badass, but his story’s pretty interesting nonetheless.

  • Ames started off his career as a CIA Agent tasked with recruiting Soviet intelligence officers to be double agents.

  • After some years with the CIA, a messy divorce (his wife claimed “mental cruelty” as her reason for the split) and a frivolous lifestyle put Ames pretty heavily in debt. He considered robbing a bank to solve the problem, but realized that he could probably do a lot better by selling information to the Soviets.

  • Ames proceeded to sell out all of his friends and contacts in Russia for a total of $2.7 million. At least three of them – Valery Martynov, Sergei Motorin, and Dmitri Polyakov – were executed as a result of Ames’ betrayal. Ames even managed to betray his close friend Sergey Fedorenko twice. Fedorenko used political connections to escape his first betrayal and unwittingly went to his friend Ames for help moving to the U.S. Ames promised he would do whatever was in his power to help and then sold him out to the KGB instead.

  • In 1986 and 1991, Ames was able to pass CIA polygraph tests using relaxation techniques taught to him by KGB agents, but in 1994 he was eventually arrested after years of attempts by the U.S. Government to find the source of the leak finally paid off. He is still in prison.

  • 3. Richard Sorge Saves The World From Nazis

    A Communist sympathizer from an early age, Richard Sorge began spying for the Soviets during World War II, and pulled off one of the most astounding feats of espionage in history.

  • Specifically, he ran an entire network of Japanese and European agents in Tokyo for 8 years without detection by Japan’s famously ruthless secret police. During this time he kept the Soviets informed about all of Japan and Germany’s moves before they happened, including the Pearl Harbor attack and the German invasion of the USSR.

  • Unfortunately, Stalin was a jackass about the whole thing and ignored a lot of really important information that Sorge had obtained (sample quote: “There’s this bastard who’s set up factories and brothels in Japan and even deigned to report the date of the German attack as 22 June. Are you suggesting I should believe him too?”), but it’s widely agreed that Richard Sorge’s tireless work on behalf of Red Army intelligence was instrumental in keeping the Nazis from winning the war. Which is quite an achievement.

  • Sorge was hanged in Tokyo in 1944 after Stalin refused to acknowledge him and secure his release.

  • James Bond author Ian Fleming has called Sorge “the man whom I regard as the most formidable spy in history.”

  • 4. The Russian Retro Spy Ring

    Earlier this week, 10 people were arrested on charges of operating a sophisticated espionage ring inside the United States and funneling sensitive information to Russia.

  • The accused spies, part of a network called “The Illegals,” had been living for more than a decade under false names in America working normal jobs, going to PTA meetings, and adopting all of the trappings of a normal American lifestyle.

  • Directed to gather information on topics such as nuclear weapons, American foreign policy, and the structure of the CIA, The Illegals used spy-movie techniques such as bag swaps, secret codes embedded in images posted online, invisible ink, and fake I.D.s to pass information to their handlers.

  • Couples Cynthia and Richard Murphy and Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley were arrested this week along with sexy Sydney-Bristow-esque Anna Chapman, who has already become kind of an Internet sensation after images from her Facebook page started circulating yesterday.

  • The accused are currently awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to act as agents of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. attorney general.