Synopses & Reviews
For much of the Twentieth Century, the American Public was astonishingly innocent about the role of intelligence organizations in international affairs. That changed abruptly in 1961, argues Thomas Powers, when a covert US-backed invasion of Cuba failed all too conspicuously at the Bay of Pigs. Afterward, everyone knew about the CIA. By the mid-1970s, congressional investigations had exposed many of its darkest secrets though some questions may never be answered.
No one outside the intelligence services knows more about their culture than Thomas Powers. The essays collected in this volume tell stories of shadowy successes, ghastly failures, and, more often, gripping uncertainties. They range from the exploits of "Wild Bill" Donovan's OSS during the Second World War, through the CIA's long cold war struggle with its Russian adversary, to debates about the use of secret intelligence in a democratic society. Here too are analyses of the Kennedys and their obsession with getting rid of Castro; real, suspected, and imagined Communist spies; the weird worldview of counterintelligence expert James J. Angleton; the scandals of Soviet moles Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen; and urgent contemporary issues such as whether the CIA and the FBI can defend America against terrorism.
What emerges from these essays is not just the episodes, personalities, and controversies of America's secret history, but a keen sense of what the intelligence business is like: the kinds of people who do it, the kinds of things they do well, or badly, and the ways they try to give the government that employs them what it wants.
"A remarkable, twisted tapestry of intrigue." Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer
"There is as yet no single book that synthesizes all that we have learned in the past 10 years here and in Moscow about American intelligence since 1941. For the moment this collection fills the gap....[E]ssential wartime reading....Reading Powers you get an excellent sense not of what to expect that's not the job of history but of the smart questions we need to ask to be confident that we are winning our current secret war." Timothy Naftali, The New York Times Book Review
These essays about U.S. intelligence services, from Thomas Powers acknowledged secret intelligence authority and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist trace a history of brilliant successes, ghastly failures, and gripping uncertainties. They range from the exploits of "Wild Bill" Donovan during World War II, to the CIAs elaborate cold war struggles with the KGB, to debates about the role of secret intelligence in the postcold war world. Here too are analyses of the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Kennedy assassination, William Casey's years as CIA director under Ronald Reagan, the Aldrich Ames scandal, and such urgent contemporary issues as whether the CIA is up to the challenge of defending America against terrorism.
About the Author
Thomas Powers is the author of The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (1979), Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb (1993), and The Confirmation (2000), a novel. He won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1971 and has contributed to The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, Harper's, The Nation, The Atlantic, and Rolling Stone.
Table of Contents
1 The Underground Entrepreneur 3
2 The Conspiracy That Failed 21
3 Founding Father 45
4 Phantom Spies at Los Alamos 59
5 The Plot Thickens 81
6 The Riddle Inside the Enigma 109
7 The Bloodless War 127
8 Saving the Shah 145
9 And After We've Struck Cuba? 157
10 The Heart of the Story 171
11 The Mind of the Assassin 179
12 The Interesting One 189
13 Marilyn Was the Least of It 209
14 Soviet Intentions and Capabilities 221
15 The Ears of America 229
16 Notes from Underground 243
17 Doing the Right Thing 261
18 Last of the Cowboys 269
19 The Bottom Line 281
20 No Laughing Matter 307
21 Who Won the Cold War? 319
22 The Black Arts 343
23 The Trouble with the CIA 361
24 America's New Intelligence War 381