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 – to criticise and not support the C.I.A.

So Mr. Trento states in his Preface:

"The Secret History of the C.I.A. is not about America conquering god-less Communism and winning the Cold War. It is more about ambition and betrayal than about patriotic achievement. It is about what happened when an age of fear caused us to turn extraordinary power over to a government agency run by human beings with weaknesses that we all share. It is about careerism, callousness, self-interest and hybris.

From the very day the C.I.A. opened for business, its management risked the lives of mostly innocent people who were not combatants in the spy wars. Over the course of the Cold War, hundred of thousands of people died in a series of proxy wars and secret operations, often for purposes that had little do to with our own national interest."

Similarly Mr. Trento refers to U.S. oppositon to communism as: "anti-Communist paranoia".

All of this must be viewed with much caution. For example, the war in Korea could not realistically be described as a "proxy" war. The South was defending itself from invasion and struggling to survive. Similar analyses may be made of U.S. support for other countries facing communist aggression: to dismiss these struggles as "proxy" does little justice to the Americans or their allies. Further, it is now fashionable amongst the soft left to describe anti-communist activity as "paranoid". But the Cold War was a very serious matter: there was an attempt by the Soviet Union..


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