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American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyondby E. Howard Hunt and Greg Aunapu
Synopses & Reviews
A legendary CIA operative and central figure in the Watergate scandal at last tells his story.
World War II covert agent E. Howard Hunt joined the CIA soon after its inception, becoming one of its most valuable operatives until his retirement in 1970. He blazed a trail for the agency in Latin America, helping to orchestrate the successful 1954 coup in Guatemala as well as the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, which ended in disaster after an ill-fated decision by President John F. Kennedy. During the Nixon administration, he worked with the White House Special Investigations Unit (aka the "plumbers"). In the aftermath of the Pentagon Papers leak, he masterminded the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office in 1971, and, with G. Gordon Liddy, he organized the break-in at the Democratic National Committee's Watergate headquarters in 1972. Hunt was ultimately convicted of burglary, conspiracy, and wiretapping and served 33 months in prison.
Now in his late eighties, Hunt looks back over his storied career, revealing what really happened and debunking the many rumors that have swirled around him. Writing with his characteristic salty wit, he brings to life his exploits in the CIA, offering surprising revelations about the agency's Latin American operations — and its masterly manipulation of politics and the media in the U.S. He details the "black bag jobs" of the White House plumbers, explains why he agreed to participate in the Watergate burglary — even though he thought it was a bad idea — and sheds new light on the aftermath of the break-in. He sets the record straight on rumors about his first wife's death and accusations that have linked him to the JFK assassination and the George Wallace shooting. And finally, he offers an insider's advice on how the CIA must now reshape itself to regain its edge and help win the war on terrorism.
"Career spy, Watergate conspirator and prolific suspense novelist Hunt (Guilty Knowledge) collaborated with journalist Aunapu (Without a Trace) on this breezy, unrepentant memoir. Hunt (who died recently at 88) recalls the highlights of a long career, from WWII service with the fabled Office of Strategic Services (OSS) — predecessor of the CIA — to a career with the agency itself and a stint as a consultant to the Nixon White House. As a White House operative, Hunt specialized in dirty tricks and break-ins — including the Democratic National Committee's headquarters — and served 33 months in federal prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. He claims to have been a magnet for women, especially models, and shamelessly drops the names of the rich and powerful. He also played a key role in the disastrous Bay of Pigs operation. As for his role in Watergate, he blames his 'bulldog loyalty' and concedes only that he and his fellow conspirators did 'the wrong things for the right reasons.' In a postscript, Hunt urges reforming the beleaguered CIA in the image of the wartime OSS and its 'daring amateurs.' Hunt's nostalgic memoir breaks scant new ground in an already crowded field." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Startling revelations from the OSS, the CIA, and the Nixon White house
Think you know everything there is to know about the OSS, the Cold War, the CIA, and Watergate? Think again. In American Spy, one of the key figures in postwar international and political espionage tells all. Former OSS and CIA operative and White House staffer E. Howard Hunt takes you into the covert designs of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon:
Complete with documentation from audiotape transcripts, handwritten notes, and official documents, American Spy is must reading for anyone who is fascinated by real-life spy tales, high-stakes politics, and, of course, Watergate.
For three decades, E. Howard Hunt served his nation, first in the U.S. Navy, then in the OSS and CIA, before being hired by President Nixon's staff, for whom he helped plan the infamous Watergate break-in. Now he reveals what he could only hint at in his seventy-plus spy novels: his role in some of the best known and least understood events in the postwar era. And he does so without spin or excuses.
From his early days as an OSS operative in China during World War II, through his decades as a covert cold warrior with the CIA, and on to his fateful years in the Nixon White House, Hunt vividly describes the rigorous training, meticulous planning, and artful deceit that are the meat and potatoes of the espionage game. He offers startling revelations about the CIA's 1954 coup in Guatemala, the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, the agency's covert domestic propaganda campaign, and much more.
He also discusses the 1971 break-in of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office, reveals his motives for participating in Watergate, even though he thought it was a mistake, and explains why his wife was carrying $10,000 in cash when she died in a plane crash en route to Chicago in 1972. He also reveals that because his daughter failed to follow his directions and dispose of incriminating evidence, he was later able to use these materials and become the star witness against the heads of the Watergate conspiracy.
In the post-Watergate years, Hunt became the focus of numerous conspiracy theories suggesting that he: participated in the JFK assassination; wrote the book by George Wallace's would-be assassin; knew the secret "alternative" motive for breaking into the DNC headquarters. Hunt debunks a number of these accusations and defends himself vigorously against the rest.
Based on audiotape transcripts, interviews, handwritten memos, and documents that Hunt has kept over the years, American Spy takes you behind the scenes to meet all of the Watergate conspirators as you've never seen them before. Destined to provoke many new controversies as it puts others to rest, it is the most memorable memoir you'll read this year.
About the Author
E. Howard Hunt is author of more than 70 suspense novels.
Greg Aunapu has reported for Time, People, and a variety of other national news media.
Table of Contents
Foreword by William F. Buckley Jr.
1. World War II.
3. China Station.
4. The End of War.
5. The Marshall Plan.
6. The CIA.
8. The Balkans and Operation PB/Success.
10. "Play It Again, Sam."
11. Bay of Pigs.
12. The Assassination of President Kennedy.
13. The Great Propaganda Machine.
14. Inside the White House.
16. Colson and McCord.
18. Watergate Redux.
20. Disaster Strikes Twice.
21. After the Crash.
23. The Web Unweaves.
24. The Memo Bites Back.
25. The Problem with Langley.
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