CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

Overviews

2000s

K - Z

Kleinman, Steven M. "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Review: Observations of an Interrogator." Defense Intelligence Journal 15, no. 1 (2006): 79-134.

This is a detailed look at "the potential for lessons learned" from the controversial "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual," produced by the CIA in 1963 and declassified in 1997. The author finds in the manual "a wealth of valuable concepts that either have the potential for immediate application ... or that warrant further study."

Maddrell, Paul. Spying on Science: Western Intelligence in Divided Germany, 1945-1961. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

According to Peake, Studies 51.3 (2007), this work "focuses on the scientific intelligence obtained" from interrogations of refugees, defectors, and former POWs, as well as from "traditional agents, special technical collection teams, mail interception units, and telecommunications monitoring," and "the beneficial results for Western military capabilities." The author leaves "the impression that the tremendous human intelligence effort he describes was less productive than he implied" earlier.

Fischer, IJI&C 21.3 (Fall 2008), comments that the author's "original contribution ... is to put intelligence at the center of the story" of the use of German scientists after World War II. In the process, Maddrell "depicts intelligence operations from the ground up.... Spying on Science is an important contribution to Cold War and intelligence history."

Mello, Tara Baukus. Your Government: How It Works -- The Central Intelligence Agency. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House, 2000.

Jonkers, AFIO WIN 17-00 (28 Apr. 2000), identifies this as a 59-page "overview of CIA in the context of a series of how our government works." It is aimed at high school- age students.

Prados, John. Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Click for reviews.

Scarborough, Rowan. Sabotage: America's Enemies within the CIA. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2007.

Clark comment: The flag-line on the inside flap tells us all we need to know about this book: "How Bush-hating CIA Bureaucrats Are Sabotaging the War on Terror." Weisman, Intelligencer 15.3 (Summer-Fall 2007), notes that there are plenty of accusations in this book; but the author does not name very many of the "CIA bureaucrats" who are the object of his ire, "or pin down who leaked what or to whom." Scarborough's work is "deficient in specifics."

Sileo, Thomas. CIA Humor: A Few True Stories from A 31-Year Career. Alexandria, VA: Washington House, 2004.

Peake, Studies 49.2 (2005), notes that this small book (108 pages) contains "five chapters of anecdotes.... Not all of the stories are funny, but they are all instructive.... This little book will bring pleasure to many and probably invoke similar memories in other officers."

Smith, W. Thomas, Jr. The Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency. New York: Checkmark Books, Facts-on-File, 2003.

Peake, Studies 47.4 (2003), seems to believe that the only good thing about this "encyclopedia" is that it is arranged alphabetically. The author "takes a less than scholarly approach to his task.... The assortment of entries he has assembled is incomplete and filled with too many errors of fact."

Stiefler, Todd. "CIA's Leadership and Major Covert Operations: Rogue Elephant or Risk-Averse Bureaucrats?" Intelligence and National Security 19, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 632-654.

The author offers three variables that he believes "most directly impact how CIA leaders assess the costs and benefits of covert action to their organization: public opinion, the value of strategic intelligence, and the state of inter-agency competition."

Swenson, Allan, and Michael Benson. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the CIA.  Indianapolis, IN:  Alpha Books, 2003. 

Jonkers, AFIO WIN 47-02 (11 Dec. 2002), notes that this book is "intentionally aim[ed] for the popular market and written in a way understandable to the general public." However, "[i]t contains a wealth of information, plainly and concisely stated.... For those seeking a popular, easy to understand baseline understanding of intelligence,... this book is a good way to start."

For Peake, Studies 47.3, while this book is "filled with clichés," it also "gives a good overview of the organization, mission, history, and functions" of the CIA.  "A number of helpful appendices clarify abbreviations and provide definitions..., a bibliography, and a list of other relevant intelligence organizations.  The historical facts sprinkled throughout should not, however, be accepted on faith."

Theoharis, Athan G. The Quest for Absolute Security: The Failed Relations Among U.S. Intelligence Agencies. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, 2007.

Keiser, Proceedings 134.3 (Mar. 2008), notes that the author believes "'absolute security' is an illusory quest." This work "is a most useful historical review." Noting the author's claim that "increased centralization will only lead to more abuses by the intelligence agencies," Peake, Studies 52.1 (Mar. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), finds that the book fails in its effort to make its point.

Theoharis, Athan, ed. The Central Intelligence Agency: Security under Scrutiny. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.

Peake, Studies 50.3 (Sep. 2006) and Intelligencer 15.2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007), identifies this work as "a research guide to the Central Intelligence Agency from its origins in 1947 to the end of 2004." The reviewer notes that this book is "already out of date in terms of organization and key personnel assignments"; however, "it is the most current book available on the CIA.... There are no sources cited..., a peculiar omission considering it was written by scholars. Thus it must be viewed as tentative, and where a point of interest arises in its use, students should look to primary sources for validation."

Trento, Joseph J. The Secret History of the CIA. New York: Prima, 2001.

According to the reviewer for Publishers Weekly, 17 Sep. 2001, the author "views the CIA as stunningly incompetent.... But Trento's provocative conclusions ... suffer from the poor credibility of his sources.... Trento's prose sometimes reads like boilerplate spy thriller." Pearce, National Observer, Spring 2002, notes that this book "has a sensationalist tendency" and urges that it "be viewed with much caution" and the "analysis treated with suspicion." It is difficult to know "which of the facts [Trento] sets out are accurate and which are distorted or wrong." The reviewer concludes that this is "an unbalanced work, and apparently deliberately so."

For Len M., Studies 46.2 (2002), "[i]n terms of respect for facts and an understanding of the intelligence collection and analysis process, The Secret History of CIA is the worst book yet purporting to provide an account of the Agency's past." The reviewer suggests retitling the book "Garbled Accounts and Ingenious Interpretations of Selected CIA Operations." A "reader will gain no reliable new insight into the CIA's past from slogging through" this book. Peake, Studies 55.1 (Mar. 2011), says this is "the most inaccurate book ever published on the subject."

Warner, Michael, ed. Central Intelligence: Origin and Evolution. Washington, DC: CIA History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2001. [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/Origin_and_Evolution.pdf]

"[A] decentralized Intelligence Community may be the only kind of system that can maintain public and military support for an independent, civilian foreign intelligence arm in America's non-parliamentary form of government.... Decentralization assures the Pentagon of military control over its tactical and joint intelligence programs. It also assures members of Congress of both parties that the President's chief intelligence adviser cannot acquire a dangerous concentration of domestic political power or monopolize the foreign policy advice flowing into the White House. Thus we are likely to live with the decentralized intelligence system -- and the impulse toward centralization -- until a crisis re-aligns the political and bureaucratic players or compels them to cooperate in new ways."

Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

Click above for a selection of the many reviews of this controversial work.

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