How vital were Cold War spies?

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The world of espionage lies at the heart of the mythology of the Cold War.

But while the tales of adventure, betrayal and mole hunts have proved a source of rich inspiration for thriller writers, did they actually make a difference to the outcome?

It is difficult to know the answer.

One reason it is hard to make a judgement is that much of the intelligence collected was military or tactical in nature, and would only have proven useful if the Cold War had gone hot.

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