CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

At the Beginning

The Darling and Montague Histories

Included here:

1. Arthur B. Darling

2. Ludwell Lee Montague

 

1. Darling, Arthur B. The Central Intelligence Agency: An Instrument of Government, to 1950. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1990.

Clark comment: Pforzheimer's refusal to recommend this book [review appeared on http://www.cloakanddagger.com/dagger/ciabib.txt (not found on 8/16/09)], because "it really doesn't measure up to a desired standard," is an assessment that seems overly harsh given the broad utility of Darling's work.

According to Surveillant 1.2, Darling's history of CIA, released to the National Archives in November 1989, "describes how the State Department, FBI and armed services hampered the CIA in its infancy by bickering about authority over covert activities and other operations. Written in 1953, the history was deemed 'controversial' and fell into disfavor with DCI Dulles, who limited access to it."

Theoharis, AHR, Apr. 1993, notes that Darling's account is "[f]ar more detailed and comprehensive than the reports published in 1976 by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities." This work is "a major contribution to the literature on the origins and evolution of the CIA. It is not, however, the definitive history, and its value to specialists is limited by its research base and partisanship." Lowenthal says this "somewhat dry bureaucratic history" is enhanced by an "interesting discussion of the role and function of intelligence."

For Grose, FA 70.2 (Mar.-Apr. 1991), the Darling history is an "authoritative account of the bureaucratic struggles that led in 1947 to the establishment of the CIA, and the ensuing battles for turf among the military services, the State Department and the controversial new agency." MacPherson, I&NS 10.2, comments on the "rather dense and sometimes confusingly structured text," and notes that "[t]he authority and autonomy of the first three DCIs ... remained restricted by outside opposition and obstruction." The Dulles-Jackson-Correa review was presented by Darling as essentially hostile to the concept of a centralized intelligence system.

Thomas Powers, NYRB (13 May 1993) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 295-320, sees Darling providing "a thorough account of the founding of the Office of Policy Coordination, the CIA's covert arm, whose chief was to be named by the Secretary of State and approved by the National Security Council, so long as he was 'acceptable' to the Director of Central Intelligence."

2. Montague, Ludwell Lee. General Walter Bedell Smith as Director of Central Intelligence, October 1950-February 1953. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1992.

Grose, FA 71.5 (Sep.-Oct. 1992), sees this as "an insider's terse view of the organizational growing pains in a peacetime intelligence service." Montague "regards 'Beetle' Smith as the real founder of the CIA, inheriting a faltering and diffident bureaucratic morass and pounding it into shape for combat in the looming Cold War. Montague, himself an intelligence officer, offers a perspective quite different from that of Arthur Darling, academic author of the first of the formerly classified studies.... Taken in tandem, the two histories reveal the agonizing controversies that arose in the drive to make the new intelligence agency effective."

MacPherson, I&NS 10.2, also contrasts this volume with Darling's work. Montague "argues that the first three DCIs were primarily responsible for the friction with the military, the FBI, and the State Department.... [Walter Bedell] Smith is credited with applying a firm grip on CIA, and with establishing effective command and control over the organization by clarifying the DCI's authority.... Montague ... shares with Darling the distinction of writing a volume that provides a starting point for scholarly inquiry and debate on CIA origins, not the final word.... The relative influence of Donovan and OSS compared with outside agencies like the US military remain unresolved by CIA's own official studies."

According to Thomas Powers, NYRB (13 May 1993) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 295-320, both Darling and Montague have written books "with intellectual vigor and a wealth of fascinating detail," and their "footnotes identify many important documents." Darling provides "a thorough account of the founding of the Office of Policy Coordination, the CIA's covert arm, whose chief was to be named by the Secretary of State and approved by the National Security Council, so long as he was 'acceptable' to the Director of Central Intelligence. Montague ... gives a sometimes lurid account of the organizational stresses created by this weird flow chart, which ended a few years later with the forced marriage of OPC with the Office of Special Operations."

Richard Gid Powers, AHR 99.2, believes that Montague's work "reflects orthodox CIA doctrine on Smith's transformation of the weak and doomed agency under the first three directors into the powerful intelligence gathering and covert activities force that Smith handed over to his successor.... [His] hermetically sealed account of administrative changes within the agency and bureaucratic turf battles with national security rivals will induce claustrophobia in anyone interested in what the agency was doing outside of Washington." Berkowitz and Goodman have "supplied a well-informed introduction."

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