Katherine S. Olmstead


Olmstead, Katherine S.

1. Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigation of the CIA and FBI. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. JK468I6O45

According to Choice, May 1996, this book focuses on the Church and Pike "committee investigations of CIA abuses (less extensively those of the FBI) in the wake of Watergate.... [Olmstead] applauds Pike more than Church ... and laments that, in the final analysis, the revelations produced few meaningful reforms. Her judgments are controversial, and some will argue naive, but they warrant careful consideration."

Marshall, JAH 83.4, finds Olmstead's work "perceptive and gracefully written." Although it "suffers from a shortage of available archival sources" and "could have discussed more deeply the foreign policy context of the hearings' ultimate demise," this book "is the most comprehensive account" of the congressional investigations.

2. "Reclaiming Executive Power: The Ford Administration's Response to the Intelligence Investigations." Presidential Studies Quarterly 26, no. 3 (Summer 1996): 725-737.

The author's thesis is that "the Ford administration's skillful handling of the intelligence investigations demonstrates that it was neither inept nor weak. Largely because of the executive branch's sophisticated management of the crisis, little came of the calls for reform."

[CIA/70s/Investigations; FBI/Topics/Legal (1 only)][c]

Olmsted, Kathryn S. "Blond Queens, Red Spiders and Neurotic Old Maids: Gender and Espionage in the Early Cold War." Intelligence and National Security 19, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 78-94.

Elizabeth Bentley, Judith Coplon, Priscilla Hiss, and Ethel Rosenberg "received the most media coverage of any female Communist spies, and their cases best illustrate the gender constructions used to interpret them."

[SpyCases/Bentley; SpyCases/Bomb/Rosenbergs; SpyCases/Hiss; Women/CW]

Olmsted, Kathryn S. Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina, 2002.

Bath, NIPQ 19.1/2, says that the author "is generally successful in giving ... a more accurate picture" of Bentley than earlier depictions. Olmsted recognizes Bentley's "importance in the post-war U.S. government's battle against the communist infiltration and Soviet intelligence penetration that had taken place in the 1940s."

For Sibley, I&NS 18.1, the author's portrayal of Bentley is "thorough and balanced.... Olmsted also makes clear that Bentley cannot be defined merely by her character flaws and mental weaknesses. Her role in history outweighs these personal defects.... The book is comprehensively researched and reads like a good detective novel." Similarly, Scully, H-Women, H-Net Reviews, Apr. 2003, sees this as "a well-researched, coherent, and fast-paced biography." The author "is evenhanded and careful in her discussion of Bentley's later accusations against especially prominent individuals."

Peake, Intelligencer 13.2, concludes that the author's "powerful well written characterization ... adds much that is new about [Bentley's] life. Whether one see[s] her as a heroine or traitor, it is a valuable contribution to the literature." To Warner, Studies 47.2 (2003), the author's "weaving of public, legal, and declassified sources has given us a nearly definitive life of Elizabeth Bentley." However, "Olmsted could have done better at explaining the Bentley case in the context of the larger American effort against the Soviets."



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