Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones

A - C


Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri. American Espionage: From Secret Service to CIA. New York: Free Press, 1977. JK468I6J45

Petersen: Provides "thorough coverage of the early 20th Century in particular."


Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri. "American Intelligence: A Spur to Historical Genius?" Intelligence and National Security 3, no. 2 (1988): 332-337. [Petersen]

This is a review article of a number of books on intelligence published in the 1984-1987 period, including works by Blum, Laqueur, May, Ranelagh, Sinclair, Wark, and Winks.


Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri. The CIA and American Democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989. 2d ed., rev. 1998. [pb] 3d ed., 2003.

Clark comment: This work covers the first 40 years of the CIA's history, ending with the Tower Commission and Inouye Committee reports on Iran-Contra. The second revised edition has a brief update that brings the overall material to 1997. The author's inability to understand the noncommunist left and, especially, liberal anticommunism is a serious weakness in his history of the years covered here.

According to Surveillant 1.5, the author "finds that the Agency has been manipulated by the White House, the Congress, and even the public. This politicization has damaged the CIA's standing, and as a result, its effectiveness in terms of intelligence collection and analysis as well as operations. The CIA has also become something of a scapegoat, being doubted, even when proven correct. A concise history for all audiences."

The reviewer in JAH 77.1 comments that this book "is a highly successful synthesis of what has been discovered about the CIA's activities.... Jeffreys-Jones' central contribution is ... to our knowledge of what other public officials thought and did about the results of the CIA's actions.... The treatment of the Truman administration's tentative attitude toward the CIA is the best in print.... The story of the mid-1970s investigations of CIA activities by [congressional] committees ... receives less detailed consideration than it deserves."

Rosati, APSR 84.4, sees this as "one of the most comprehensive and valuable treatments of the history of the CIA and its place within U.S. democracy." The book goes beyond description and "provides a very balanced and analytical account of the evolution of the CIA." Jeffreys-Jones "makes it clear that the CIA is a large and complex bureaucratic organization with multiple intelligence functions that have become increasingly professionalized over time."

For West, PSQ 106.2, Jeffreys-Jones "spends too much time on covert action and not enough time on the other elements of intelligence.... This is an enjoyable volume that will inform the general or novice reader but does not offer any fundamental insights about the Central Intelligence Agency or its operations." Smith, Presidential Studies Quarterly 21.1, notes that while Jeffreys-Jones ends his work with a call for reform, he "neglects to present any effective, long-term alternatives."

To Johnson, I&NS 5.3, this book "offers little new information," but "is well-written, balanced in its appraisals, and offers a provocative theme." He adds, however, that Jeffreys-Jones "seems to place excessive emphasis" on the relationship between the CIA's image and its effectiveness. Certainly, "standing can be important ... but it is just one of several variables that shape the opportunities ... for having influence in high circles."

Commenting on the second edition, Shryock, IJI&C 13.3, finds this "a fairly straightforward and prodigiously researched" work. It is, however, "by no means definitive, and in a number of respects is more than mildly disappointing." Because the author "relies too heavily on secondary sources and on his own ... political instincts and prejudices, he wanders off track from time to time, arriving at dubious, sometimes even strange, judgments." In addition, there is a "surprising neglect of one whole area of Agency activity, the acquisition of information"; that is, "he tends to play down the significance of espionage, advanced technical means of collection, and the exploitation of open sources."


Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri. “The C.I.A. Con-Trick.” History Today 51, no. 12 (Dec. 2001): 20-22.

“Well before September 11th, the intelligence reservationists/expansionists in the US had won the political argument. Intelligence was not a Cold War invention, and it was not doomed to extinction with the destruction of the Berlin Wall…. The need for intelligence ... does continue in our dangerous world. However, the engine of intelligence expansion in the US remains powered by the dangerous fuels of bureaucratic opportunism and a variety of chauvinisms. For this reason, the US intelligence community is too big. Those who would boost it further are spectacularly wrong.”


Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri. Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

Jonkers, AFIO WIN 1-03 (7 Jan 2003), notes that Jeffreys-Jones "presents a thesis of an American Intelligence Community possessed by a 'Confidence Man' mentality that developed during the Cold War.... The culminating chapter ... is a wholly critical treatment of 1991 to the present." The author "manages to describe every major occurrence and every key player in virtually every field of intelligence with a critical slant that is relentless."

For Peake, IJI&C 15.3, this is the author's "latest assault on American intelligence." It contains "[p]rovocative but misleading, if not deceptive, analysis," and is a "distorted, unbalanced assessment." For Roades, Intelligencer 13.2, this book is worth reading "[i]f readers can recognize the fact that here is a very talented author providing a vast range of information with a pervasive personal critical bias."

Schwab, IJI&C 16.1, comments that while the author's earlier CIA and American Democracy (1989) was "a penetrating and dispassionate study," his latest work "generally lacks both of these attributes.... [M]any of Jeffreys-Jones's criticisms ... are either undocumented or poorly substantiated.... [E]vidence and analysis ... are largely absent from Cloak and Dollar, which often reads like 'yellow journalism.'"

To Hanyok, I&NS 17.4, the author's thesis of a conspiracy of spies "does not hold together very well.... It is too bad that Jeffreys-Jones chose this approach by which to organize his history, because it detracts from the rest of his work that, on the whole, contains some fair assessments of American intelligence over the last 150 years.... [However,] there are nagging factual errors in the book."

Robarge, Studies 46.4, finds that "Cloak and Dollar is a provoking, sometimes insightful, but ultimately overblown and unsatisfying book." The "clever-sounding idea" of intelligence officer as "confidence man" "probably could support a magazine piece or journal article, but it is too weak to carry an entire book." However, the book "has some strong points. The chapters on the late 19th and early 20th centuries offer a good case study of Americans' ambivalence toward spying.... The discussion of the Department of State's centralized intelligence element between the world wars -- U-1 -- is enlightening.... The book's description of how politics distorted historical analyses of Pearl Harbor is well done, and its treatment of the CIA's 'time of troubles' in the 1970s is even-handed."

While the reviewer for Publisher's Weekly, 25 Mar. 2002, finds that this book "is more balanced in its content than the author's rhetoric might lead you to believe," Haines, Diplomatic History 28.3, was "sadly disappointed" by this book. It "is not only bad history, full of errors and distortions, but [the author's] main concept ... is not only wrong, but silly.... Jeffrey-Jones's con man theory ... is irritating; [and] his large number of factual errors and sweeping generalizations, with no supporting evidence, can grind."


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