Category: Historical

REVIEW: Operation Ajax: the Story of the CIA Coup That Remade the Middle East.


This is a four-color shocker and if the holiday gift-giving season is not entirely over, a fine present to a youngster. The facts are hardly unknown—a recent Guardian report, based on British intelligence records, reconfirmed the CIA role in overthrowing the elected and beloved Iranian leader—or even untreated in previous comic art. (Reviewer disclosure: the

REVIEW: The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, by David Talbot

the devil chessboard

In The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, David Talbot, the journalist who founded in 1995 and wrote a great book on the lives of John and Robert Kennedy, Brothers (2007), has produced another page-turner that unearths mountains of new evidence about the seamier side of the

REVIEW: Decent Interval: An Insider’s Account of Saigon’s Indecent End Told by the CIA’s Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam by Frank Snepp

decent interval

Decent Interval: An Insider’s Account of Saigon’s Indecent End Told by the CIA’s Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam by Frank Snepp ISBN 0-7006-1213-0 Widely regarded as a classic on the Vietnam War, Decent Interval provides a scathing critique of the CIA’s role in and final departure from that conflict. Still the most detailed and respected

REVIEW: The 25-Year War. America’s Military Role in Vietnam

Palmer - The 25 Year War

The 25-year War: America’s Military Role in Vietnam. by Bruce Palmer, Jr. University of Kentucky Press. 248 pp. $24.00. There are two good reasons for reading this book. First, it is a thoughtful analysis of why we lost the war in Vietnam and how we might have won it. Second, it reveals what the military

REVIEW: DISCIPLES. The World War II missions of the CIA directors who fought for Wild Bill Donovan

Perhaps it was appropriate that four of the Central Intelligence Agency’s more infamous directors learned their tradecraft from “Wild” Bill Donovan, the architect of the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the CIA. The hard-charging Donovan a World War I Medal of Honor recipient, was notorious for tossing caution to the wind



“The book will affect the CIA as a severe body blow does any living organism: some parts obviously will be affected more than others, but the health of the whole is bound to suffer. A considerable number of CIA personnel must be diverted from their normal duties to undertake the meticulous and time-consuming task of

Spies of the First World War


Among the most compelling stories Morton describes are the Belgian resistance networks gathering intelligence for the British army against the Germans during the Great War. ‘La Dame Blanche’, run by a British agent named Henry Landau, came up with a number of ingenious methods of counting German trains, who and what was in them and

REVIEW: Stalin’s Secret War. Soviet Counterintelligence Against the Nazis, 1941–1945


By Robert W. Stephan. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. 349 pages, endnotes, bibliography, appendix, photos, index The study of intelligence (espionage) systems demands a particular mindset from scholars undertaking this sort of research. Evidence is often contradictory, incomplete, and, worst of all, unreliable. It is the kind of subject that challenges historians' patience and

REVIEW: The Shadow Warriors Of Nakano. A History of the Imperial Japanese Army’s Elite Intelligence School


By Stephen C. Mercado. Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 2002. 331 pages, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index Japanese military intelligence during the Second World War is an important topic infrequently investigated in-depth by western scholars. In particular, training for and the execution of Imperial Japanese clandestine operations are obscure and murky areas of study. Nevertheless, Stephen Mercado, a

REVIEW: The Main Enemy. The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB


By Milt Bearden and James Risen. New York: Random House, 2003. 563 pages, note on sources, index Bearden is a former 30 year senior officer of CIA’s clandestine service and Risen is a New York Times investigative reporter. This book covers CIA’s covert operations in Afghanistan to defeat the Soviets. The heart of this fascinating

REVIEW: Spies for Nimitz. Joint Military Intelligence in the Pacific War.


By Jeffrey M. Moore. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004. 300 pages, endnotes, bibliography, photos, maps, index It seems like yesterday but it is now more than a decade since I pored over the weekly issues of the bulletin put out by the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Areas (JICPOA) while researching my study of

REVIEW: Partners at the Creation. The Men Behind Postwar Germany’s Defense and Intelligence Establishments


By James H. Critchfield. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2003. 243 pages, bibliography, glossary, photos, index This insignificant memoir tells how its author attended the birth of West Germany's intelligence service—the so-called Gehlen Organization, which evolved into the Bundesnachrichtendienst. It will not achieve what I believe to be its goal: to help historians. It is

REVIEW: The Secret State. Whitehall and the Cold War.


The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War By Peter Hennessy. London, UK: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 2002. 234 pages, endnotes, photos, index Just as anyone who lived through Edward Heath's three-day week can be identified by their tendency to stash candles in kitchen drawers ("in case the lights go out"), so anyone who

REVIEW: Fighting The Nazis. French Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1935-1945


Fighting the Nazis: French Military Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1935-1945 By Colonel Paul Paillole. New York, NY: Enigma Books, 2003. 492 pages, photos, charts, index.   Originally published in France in 1975 this interesting work provides a remarkably detailed account of Paillole's service as the leader of French counterintelligence prior to and during World War II.

REVIEW: The Reader of Gentlemen’s Mail. Herbert O. Yardley and the Birth of American Intelligence


By David Kahn. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004. 242 pages Few authors have so successfully mined the history of codebreaking. In Kahn's latest book, he explores the life and times of Herbert Yardley, one of the forgotten figures of U.S. intelligence. Yardley's achievements had less to do with his talents as a cryptanalyst,

REVIEW. A Secret Life. The Polish Colonel, His Covert Mission, And The Price He Paid To Save His Country


By Benjamin Weiser. New York: Public Affairs, 2004. 383 pages. Espionage is the staple of intelligence fiction. In reality, espionage provides a very small part of intelligence collection, much more of it coming from technical sources. But the right spy in the right place with good access can be crucial. And, as most intelligence practitioners

REVIEW: The U-2 Spyplane: Toward the Unknown, A New History of the Early Years


By Christopher Pocock. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2000. 288 pages. Reviewed by Dr. Gerald K. Haines Chris Pocock has done his homework well. His most recent book — The U-2 Spyplane, Toward the Unknown, A New History of the Early Years — is the most comprehensive examination to date of the design, production, and

REVIEW: Counterfeit Spies. Genuine or Bogus? An Astonishing Investigation into Secret Agents of the Second World War


By Nigel West. London: St. Ermin's Press, 1999. 308 pages ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ The secret world of intelligence is a `wilderness of mirrors' where reality is distorted by professional liars. But it is also quite often the `missing dimension' to much of importance in contemporary history which helps us make sense of events which would otherwise be

REVIEW: F. D. R. and World War II Espionage


By Joseph E. Persico Random House. 564 pages ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Can a rather spoiled but handsome paraplegic, deceptive by nature and mistrusted by most of his colleagues, gamely presiding over an intensely isolationist country sunk in the deep trough of an economic depression, manage to defeat the most dynamic economic and military powers of the globe

REVIEW: The Secret History of CIA


  By Joseph J. Trento. Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2001. 542 pages.   The author is an investigative journalist who has worked within the U.S. media. The Secret History of the C.I.A. hence has a sensationalist tendency. Further, the liberal and pro-Democrat bias of the American media produces a tendency – here strikingly evident –