Wise, David. Nightmover: How Aldrich Ames Sold the CIA to the KGB for $4.6 Million. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
For Powers, NYRB (10 Aug. 1995) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 321-332, Wise's is the best of the first four books on the Ames case (Adams, Maas, and Weiner/Johnston/Lewis). This is because the author "brings to the case the deepest personal knowledge" of the world of intelligence. Nightmover "is filled with the sort of detail valued by those who seriously want to know what the spooks are up to." Peake, CIRA Newsletter 22.2, finds some of Wise's judgments about the meaning of the Ames case to be "both too sweeping and unsupported." Nevertheless, Nightmover "is well written, generally well sourced, and a valuable contribution to the intelligence literature."
Arana-Ward, WPNWE (19-25 Jun. 1995), notes that, in the "mole hunt" part of his narrative, Wise focuses on the "unassuming, white-haired" head of research for CIA Soviet division counterintelligence, Jeanne R. Vertefeuille. "Wise depicts Vertefeuille as the quiet engine that doggedly stripped away layers until there could be no doubt that Aldrich Ames was the man.... Wise's book is a thoroughly researched, carefully sourced account.... Wise's telling of [this complicated story] is level-headed and responsible, but there is evidence here of the race to publish. There are unnecessary repetitions.... And the early chapters describing the Russian agents who were working for the United States feel as if they were dropped in after the fact."
For Brandt, NameBase, "America's premier CIA-watching journalist has exceeded my expectations with this book, which I consider his best since he started CIA-watching in 1964.... Wise reports the story without moralizing and without obvious outrage; he lets the reader draw his own conclusions." Surveillant 4.2 comments that Wise's "[a]dmirable research" is conveyed "without a moment of boredom for the reader."
Wise, David. "The Spies Who Lost $4 Million Dollars." George, Oct. 1998, 82-86.
This is really a light-weight piece, as is shown by a title about a two-year-old "scandal" and a lead discussing the NRO Headquarters contretemps of two years before that. Wise did get an interview at NRO, but did little with it for the article. His interviews with Jeffrey Harris and Jimmy Hall, who lost their jobs over NRO's accounting snafu, did elicit more thoughts from them than previously seen.
Wise, David. "Spies Will Be Spies." New York Times, 25 Mar. 2001. [http://www. nytimes.com]
The author argues that for the intelligence agencies on the two sides, the expulsion of 50 Russian diplomats from the United States and Russia's quick retaliation "do not signal a return to the cold war. For them, it never ended.... This round of expulsions ... increases the problems of the C.I.A., which has never had as many spies in its Moscow embassy and consulates as the Russians have in this country. Now the agency will lose officers in Russia, thinning its ranks even further.... The spying will continue.... All countries want to learn each other's secrets, and that desire did not end with the cold war. Presidents on both sides demand information on which to base their policy decisions, and secret information is highly prized."
Wise, David. Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America. New York: Random House, 2002.
To Peake, Studies 48.3 (2004), Wise's is the "best book about the Robert Hanssen espionage case." It is also "a disturbing tale of personal treachery and bureaucratic ineptitude." Once the FBI decided that there was a CIA suspect, "they never considered an alternative until given hard evidence of the mole's true identity." For Goulden, Washington Times, 8 Dec. 2002, and Intelligencer 13.2, "Wise adds an important new element to the case, the inside story of how our intelligence agencies finally tracked [Hanssen] down and brought him to justice.... [He also] offers fresh information on Hanssen's crimes."
Sherrill, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2002, opines that "Wise smartly guesses that the FBI 'may have failed to detect Hanssen sooner because it was in love with its own image' of bureaucratic purity and shrewdness -- a hangover from the myth-ridden Hoover era.... A traitor in their ranks? Impossible." Campbell, Journal of Intelligence History 3.1, comments that "David Wise has written another excellent book on espionage.... [T]his book shows careful research and balanced analysis and it can be recommended to academics and intelligence officers."
1. "The Spy Who Got Away." New York Times Magazine, 2 Nov. 1986, 30.
2. The Spy Who Got Away: The Inside Story of Edward Lee Howard, The CIA Agent Who Betrayed His Country's Secrets and Escaped to Moscow. New York: Random House, 1988. New York: Avon, 1988. [pb]
Chambers recommends this work over Howard's Safe House. Maas, NYT (12 Jun. 1988), suggests that whatever the author "lacks stylistically, he is a reporter of impeccable credentials.... Certainly his version of the events pertaining to ... Edward Lee Howard ... is as good as we can expect to get."
Wise, David. Tiger Trap: America's Secret Spy War with China. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.
Goulden, Washington Times, 7 Jun. 2011, finds that "[b]ased on extensive interviews with FBI counterintelligence officers," the author "offers a fascinating primer on how MSS [Chinese Ministry of State Security] tradecraft differs from that of the old KGB." Wise has produced "a groundbreaking and highly readable account" of Chinese espionage activities. Peake, Studies 55.3 (Sep. 2011), sees Tiger Trap as "a good account of contemporary Chinese espionage involving American targets," which also "explains Chinese modus operandi and tradecraft, reveals connections between operations, and identifies principal players."
For Mattis, IJI&C 25.1 (Spring 2012), this is a "compelling and engaging" book. However, it "largely fails ... to update the American experience with Chinese intelligence, instead relying on worn-out analysis of the Chinese." Nonetheless, it "helps fill in the gaps left by the Cox Committee report and the book by former Department of Energy intelligence chief, Notra Trulock" [Code Name Kindred Spirit (2002)].
[China/10s; China/U.S.Relations; SpyCases/U.S./Gen]
Wise, David. "When the FBI Spent Decades Hunting for a Soviet Spy on Its Staff." Smithsonian Magazine, Oct. 2013. [http://www.smithsonianmag.com]
The author outlines the FBI's unsuccessful spy hunt from 1962 when KGB officer Aleksei Kulak (FEDORA) walked into the FBI office in Manhattan and said the FBI had a spy in its ranks.
Wise, David, and Thomas B. Ross. The Espionage Establishment. New York: Random House, 1967. London: Jonathan Cape, 1968. New York: Bantam Books, 1968. [pb]
Clark comment: This work garnered widespread attention when it was published, basically because it provided in a popular format information that many people had not previously seen. The authors discuss the espionage systems of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States, and China, and present some relatively interesting material on Soviet illegals.
Pforzheimer says the book's "section on the CIA is weak; however the chapter on the British intelligence services reveals considerably more than had previously been published. Comments on the Chinese intelligence services and activities are of little or no value." The absence of source citations and a bibliography bothers Constantinides, but he still finds that the sections on the Soviet Union and Great Britain "are marked by some good material."
[China/Gen; Overviews/Gen/To89; Overviews/U.S./To89; Russia/Overviews; UK/Overviews][c]
Wise, David, and Thomas B. Ross. The Invisible Government. New York: Random House, 1964. New York: Bantam Books, 1965. [pb] New York: Vintage Books, 1974.
Clark comment: Billed as "the first full, authentic account of America's intelligence and espionage apparatus," The Invisible Government is one of the earliest "exposes" of U.S. intelligence activities. It was relatively sensational in its day, but its stories are old-hat today. Four chapters are devoted to the Bay of Pigs.
In a contemporaneous review, Valpey, Studies 8, no. 4 (Fall 1964), finds that "[t]his book may serve to dramatize the problem" of balancing freedom with security, "but it does not provide any deep insight or new solutions. It is written not to enlighten but to shock and to sell." Similarly, Pforzheimer calls the book an "inaccurate, simplistic 'expose' of the CIA by two resourceful journalists"; it overstates the influence of the CIA. On the other hand, for NameBase, "this 1964 book was amazingly comprehensive about U.S. covert activities."
Wise, David, and Thomas B. Ross. The U-2 Affair. New York: Random House, 1962. London: Cresset, 1963.
Constantinides says this "instant history" is "a fairly good account of the mission." However, despite the authors claims of interviews with a hundred officials, "no actual sources are named." The authors' conclusions are not always supported by their facts.
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