The Office of Strategic Services

General Overviews

U - Z

[U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. OSS Reports to the White House]

"Among the William J. Donovan papers are five volumes entitled OSS Reports to the White House contaning carbons of memoranda predominantly transmitting or paraphrasing intelligence reports for the President's personal attention.... [T]he bulk of the[ reports] are unedited reporting from individual case officers on subjects of particular importance or of particular interest to President Roosevelt." Studies 7, no. 2 (Spring 1963), 73.

1. "Memorandum for the President: Boston Series." Studies in Intelligence 9, no. 1 (Winter 1965): 81-90.

"Series of OSS field reports..., including assessment by Allen Dulles in April 1944, stationed in Switzerland, that according to well-placed sources German diplomatic and governmental morale was collapsing."

2. "Memorandum for the President: From Peter to Tito." Studies in Intelligence 9, no. 2 (Spring 1965): 53-84.

"Highly placed OSS officers record in dispatches the two-year process by which Tito and Stalin duped Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Yugoslav government in exile into facilitating the establishment of a Communist dictatorship in Belgrade."

3. "Memoranda for the President: Japanese Feelers." Studies in Intelligence 9, no. 3 (Summer 1965): 33-50.

"Dispatches from Allen Dulles and other US contacts detail the efforts of a Japanese peace group to end the Pacific war."

4. "Memoranda for the President: OSS-NKVD Liaison." Studies in Intelligence 7, no. 3 (Summer 1963): 63-74.

"Memos ... regarding possible wartime collaboration between OSS and the Soviet intelligence services (especially NKVD)."

5. "Memoranda for the President: Sunrise." Studies in Intelligence 7, no. 2 (Spring 1963): 73-98.

"Here a collection of reports from Allen Dulles, OSS agent in Bern Switzerland, on arrangements for surrender of the German army in Northern Italy in 1945."

U.S. Office of Strategic Services. Psychological Assessment Staff. Assessment of Men. New York: Rinehart, 1948.

Wilcox: "Study of the qualities of OSS personnel operating behind enemy lines."

U.S. War Department. Strategic Services Unit. War Report of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). 2 vols. New York: Walker & Co., 1976.

Vol. I: The War Report of the OSS.

This volume constitutes the history of the Coordinator of Information and the organizational history of OSS.

Vol. II: The Overseas Targets: War Report of the OSS.

This volume is the history of OSS' overseas operational activities.

Kermit Roosevelt was the overall editor for this official history, prepared by the U.S. Strategic Services Unit in 1946-1947 and released with deletions in 1975.

According to Pforzheimer, the work's "greatest shortcoming ... is the virtual total absence of the names of the participants.... This was deliberate[] (for security reasons)." Constantinides sees this collection as an "indispensable source on OSS and a starting point for more comprehensive histories of that organization." There is also an edited version: Anthony Cave Brown, ed., The Secret War Report of the OSS (New York: Berkley, 1976).

Warner, Michael. The Office of Strategic Services: America’s First Intelligence Agency. Washington, DC: History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2000. []

This is an excellent brief overview of the contribution of OSS to the waging of World War II, and of its heritage for intelligence in the years that followed.

Winks, Robin W. Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961. New York: Morrow, 1987. London: Collins/Harvill, 1987. 2d. ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

Robin W. Winks, Yale University history professor, died on 7 April 2003 at the age of 72. Winks, a prolific author on a wide range of subjects, "may best be remembered for 'Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961,' which garnered much attention for revealing the great extent to which American spy agencies had recruited Ivy League university faculty and students." Adam Bernstein, "Espionage Historian Robin Winks Dies," Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2003, B6.

Friedman, Parameters 27 (Summer 1997), notes that the second edition of this' book "corrects errors in the first edition and expands on some of the earlier material." Winks's chapter on the career of James J. Angleton is "the best and most complete treatment" of this "complex and controversial character." Robarge, Studies 53.4 (Dec. 2009), calls the chapter "the most insightful biographical sketch of Angleton yet written."

Thomas Powers, NYRB, 17 Aug. 1989, and Intelligence Wars (2004), 125-126, sees Cloak and Gown as "a fascinating and useful omnium-gatherum of information about intelligence built around short accounts of the careers of four Yale men who worked for the OSS, including [James J.] Angleton.... Wicks provides a good portrait of the young Angleton in London and later in Italy" where he was chief of OSS' counterintelligence branch. To Gove, IJI&C 3.3, the book's detail "is tremendous" and it is "well written and exciting."

In a statement that is the very definition of sour grapes, NameBase says that "Winks is a history professor at Yale, a university which has thoroughly earned its reputation as the CIA's alma mater. That this should be a source of pride for Winks is par for the course." More to the point, Pisani, JAH 76.1, describes Winks' book as "brilliant," and finds interesting his suggestion that "the omission of one facet of scholarly endeavor, the final and critical writing stage, may cripple each and every intelligence project." 

Surveillant 1.1 notes a Sunday Times report on 1 April 1990 "that Lord BETHELL, Euro-MP and historian, accepted £20,000 libel damages and an apology from ... WINKS, William Collins his publishers, and Hartnolls the printers, over allegations in ... CLOAK AND GOWN." (See pp. 400 and 544, fn 44).

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