CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

Overviews

To 1989

P - Z

Paine, Lauran. The CIA at Work. Levittown, NY: Transatlantic Arts, 1978.

Wilcox sees this as a "[s]ympathetic account."

Powers, Thomas. The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA. New York: Knopf, 1979. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980. New York: Pocket Books, 1981. [pb]

Clark comment: This is one of the best books written about American intelligence by a non-intelligence-trained individual. It reads easily and amuses in the author's clear desire to denigrate his subject and his frustration in his failure to be able to do so. In one of the limited cases where we agree on something, NameBase notes that "[w]hen it first appeared in 1979, this book was widely regarded as one of the best ever written about the CIA."

Pforzheimer says The Man Who Kept the Secrets is simultaneously one of the most comprehensive books on the CIA and "seriously flawed with errors of fact and concept." A serious shortcoming is Powers' "failure to weave the world situation into his CIA tapestry.... The author does not understand Helms and is sometimes very unfair to him. This is a book ... which should be approached ... with a full recognition of its many errors, although it should be read by the professional."

Constantinides advises a careful reading of Powers' notes, which "often contain more revealing, comprehensive, and perceptive comments or explanations than the main text." Whatever Powers may have missed or misinterpreted -- and the list is long -- this book "can be classified as outstanding, especially for an intelligence outsider."

Also, see Kenneth L. Adelman, "A Clandestine Clan," International Security 5 (Summer 1980): 152-171. This is a review essay on The Man Who and Roosevelt's Countercoup. Adelman was Director of ACDA, 1984-1987.

An adaptation of Powers' work was published as: Thomas Powers, "Inside the Department of Dirty Tricks," Atlantic Monthly 244, no. 2 (Aug. 1979): 33-64. [http://www.theatlantic.com]

Quirk, John Patrick, David Phillips, Ray Cline, and Walter Pforzheimer, eds. The Central Intelligence Agency: A Photographic History. Guilford, CT: Foreign Intelligence Press, 1986.

Ranelagh, John. The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986. Revised & updated. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987. JK468I6R29

Pforzheimer, http://www.cloakanddagger.com/dagger/ciabib.txt [no longer active], calls Ranelagh's "probably the best single book on the CIA." On the other hand, Lowenthal rates it only "a useful and comprehensive history of the CIA's first 25 years." Petersen notes that the "1987 edition reflects the correction of certain errors in the 1986 version."

For Dujmovic, Studies 58.1 (Mar. 2014), this work "remains one of the most reliable and balanced CIA histories ever published." While viewing The Agency as a "fine book," Wirtz, IJI&C 3.1, also suggests that it overrelies "on the testimony of CIA officials." Additionally, it lacks "analytical detachment, [as] evidenced by a compulsion to provide a complete, albeit sometimes contradictory, record of events."

Jeffreys-Jones, I&NS 3.2, opines that "Ranelagh has produced a mainly unoriginal book." Nevertheless, it "provides a readable account of the whole of the CIA's history, with even coverage and many fascinating quotations culled from participants." Thomas, Washington Post, 31 Jan. 1999, terms the book an "encyclopedic and fair-minded overview of the agency into the 1980s."

Tully, Andrew. CIA: The Inside Story. New York: Morrow, 1962. London: Arthur Barker, 1962. New York: Fawcett, 1963. [pb]

Pforzheimer quotes Allen Dulles' letter to Tully's publisher for the opinion that "the work is 'a compilation of rumor, hearsay, and republication of previously published speculation about the CIA,' with 'gross inaccuracies and distortions.'" Constantinides suggests that not all the many errors in this book can be written off to a lack of information; some are attributable to "sloppy research." There is little here to justify including "Inside" in the title.

For Blum, NameBase, this book, written "when few Americans could identify what the letters CIA stood for, much less what the agency did," was the first "to reveal a number of CIA adventures in some detail. It discusses actual and possible CIA attempts at government-making ... and also has sections on Nazi general Reinhard Gehlen, and the U-2 and Francis Gary Powers. Some espionage and counter-espionage tales are thrown in to make what must have at the time seemed like the 'inside story,' but which now definitely comes across as rather superficial."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Factbook on Intelligence. Washington, DC: Yearly.

U.S. Congress. Senate. Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. Final Report. 94th Cong., 2d sess. S. Report No. 94-755, 6 vols. Washington, DC: GPO, 1976.

This is the Church Committee report.

Vol. I: Foreign and Military Intelligence.

Vol. II: Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans.

Vol. III: Supplemental Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence and the Rights of Americans.

Vol. IV: Supplemental Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence and Military Intelligence.

Clark comment: This volume contains the "History of the Central Intelligence Agency," written by Committee staffer Anne Karalekas. It was also published as Anne Karalekas, History of the Central Intelligence Agency (Laguna Hills, CA: Aegean Park Press, 1977). This reprint has itself been reprinted, with an additional documentary appendix: William M. Leary, ed., The Central Intelligence Agency: History and Documents (University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1984).

Pforzheimer: "While somewhat biased and uneven ... on the role of clandestine collection and covert action, this 'History' is probably the best text publicly available on the history of the CIA."

Vol. V: The Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy -- Performance of the Intelligence Agencies.

Vol. VI: Supplemental Reports on Intelligence Activities.

Williams, Grover S. Legislative History of the Central Intelligence Agency as Documented in Published Congressional Sources. CRS Report No. 75-5A. Washington, DC: U.S. Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service, 1975.

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."

Yost, Graham. The CIA. New York: Facts on File, 1989.

Surveillant 1.5 finds this to be a "fascinating account of the use of surveillance technology in the context of the East-West struggle." Although it is "[o]riented toward younger readers," it is still "suitable as an illustrated introduction for non-technically oriented adults."

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