Tradecraft refers to the often sneaky work of spies. Slapping a tracking device onto a briefcase, breaking into the upstairs offices of an embassy to rifle through file cabinets while posing as a socialite at a party: these are examples of the tradecraft that spies are taught to do.
Tradecraft is an old word that used to refer to the work, or craft, of any profession, or trade. It likely acquired its specific association with spy work during World War II, though it is a word most heavily associated with the Cold War. Some believe this association is entirely due to its appearance in the novels of John le Carré, prompting some fans to wonder if le Carré in fact coined it. Did it then slip into intelligence circles as an example of life imitating art? Le Carré denies this story, saying he heard the term while serving in the British Secret Service in the 1950s.
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