Bay Of Pigs Declassified

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For decades, the CIA’s top secret postmortem on the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion has been the holy grail of historians, students, and survivors of the failed invasion of Cuba. But the scathing internal report on the worst foreign policy debacle of the Kennedy administration, written by the CIA’s then–inspector general Lyman Kirkpatrick, has remained tightly guarded—until now.

Dislodged from the government through the Freedom of Information Act, here is an uncompromising look at high officials’ arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence, as displayed in their attitude toward Castro’s revolution and toward the Cuban exiles the CIA had organized to invade the island. Including the complete report and a wealth of supplementary materials, Bay of Pigs Declassified provides a fascinating picture of the operation and of the secret world of the espionage establishment, with stories of plots, counterplots, and intra-agency power struggles worthy of a Le Carré novel.

Includes: the complete text of the CIA report; a critical introduction; the newly declassified response to the report from Richard Bissell, who masterminded the operation; the first joint interview with the managers of the invasion, Jacob Esterline and Colonel Jack Hawkins; a comprehensive chronology; and biographies of the key participants.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
If the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was the most dire event of the Cold War, then the Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961 was the most absurd. Kornbluh (director, Cuban Documentation Ctr. Project of the National Security Archive; Politics of Illusion: The Bay of Pigs Invasion Reexamined, Lynne Rienner, 1997) includes the tedious but informative report of Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick, which largely blames the CIA for misleading President Kennedy. Richard Bissell, the CIA's deputy director for plans, responds with a similarly oppressive rebuttal that attributes the failure to Kennedy's need to ensure plausible deniability--to hide America's obvious role by committing limited, insufficient air support and troops. Additional supporting documents and an interview with the invasion planners show the Bay of Pigs fiasco to be what historian Theodore Draper calls "a perfect failure." For a narrative overview, see Ale Fursenko's One Hell of a Gamble (LJ 3/15/97). Primarily for specialists in the era.--Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Evan Thomas
One of the most brutally frank, important - and unusual - government documents ever written, Bay of Pigs Declassified should be required reading for citizens, as well as for CIA officials as a 'how-to' guide on how not to conduct a covert operation.
-- Newsweek
Kirkus Reviews
A look at spooks in action that does not resemble a Tom Clancy novel.

A lingering question about the Bay of Pigs operation has always been how anyone could ever have thought it would work. Somehow presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, with the input of their military and intelligence advisers, approved an invasion plan that projected the victory of a 1,400-man exile force over the 25,000-man Cuban army. Moreover, they did so while implausibly insisting that the action must not be traced back to the US. Until recently, the cloak of secrecy has restricted efforts to explain this planning and decision-making process to idle speculation; with the publication of this volume, somewhat informed speculation is now possible. Through the Freedom of Information Act, the National Security Archive (a public-interest group), with which Kornbluh is affiliated, has obtained the CIA's internal and very critical report on the Bay of Pigs and a lengthy response from the CIA officer in charge of the operation.

Edited by Kornbluh (Nicarauga, 1987), the volume includes an analytical introduction, an interview with two CIA men involved in the planning of the operation and a detailed timeline of events. This mass of information provides insight into shifting objectives, ambiguity over responsibility and accountability, and the momentum that precluded halting or even seriously reconsidering the operation. Most striking, however, is the vigor with which those involved seek to hide behind presidential cancellation of an air strike in explaining the failure. The impulse to deflect blame clearly overrides any self-analysis that could lead to institutional learning from the experience despite the absurdity of claiming that one decision was the turning point in an operation riddled with problems. What remains unexplained is the failure of American political leadership, a puzzle that may be beyond the potential of historical documents to solve.

An eye-opening account, regardless of one's political convictions.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter Kornbluh directs the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. He is the author of Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba and The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability and a co-author (with Laurence Chang) of Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: A National Security Archive Documents Reader and (with Malcolm Byrne) of The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History, all published by The New Press. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: History Held Hostage: The Bay of Pigs Report in Context 1
Key Actors and Acronyms 21
Pt. I The Inspector General's Survey of the Cuban Operation, October 1961 23
Pt. II An Analysis of the Cuban Operation by the Deputy Director (Plans) Central Intelligence Agency, 18 January 1962 133
Pt. III Associated Documents 235
Pt. IV The Bay of Pigs Revisited: An Interview with Jacob Esterline and Col. Jack Hawkins 258
Pt. V The Bay of Pigs Invasion: A Comprehensive Chronology of Events 267
Source Key 331
Acknowledgments 334
About the National Security Archive 336
Index 337
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2010

    it was okay

    The novel Bay of Pigs declassified is a book discussing in a factual manor the detailed facts of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Some major themes and messages are just facts like, the invasion happened under the Kennedy administration. It was mainly under the control of the CIA. The American government felt that the global community was learning that Cuba was under communist control, the communist ruler was Fidel Castro, so the American government had to over throw him. When J.F.K. took office in January 1961 he was basically just handed the plan. One of the first things he got was some numbers, "by 28 January 1961 the strike force strength was 644 on 3 February it was 685 by 10 March it had risen to 826 by 22 March to 973. On 6 April 1961 brigade strength was reported at 1390" (Kornbluh 30). Basically they're giving J.F.K. numbers and saying this is what we're going to do, make it look good to the American public.
    Unfortunately I did not have many likes for this book or even enjoyment in reading it. It was very factional; it was pretty much here is a whole list of facts, which could be interesting to a person who is really into the Bay of Pigs invasion. Also there were some interesting facts in the book. This like is definitely a dislike as well, it was extremely dull, the person reading this book has to be extremely passionate about the subject, and personally I'm not and I am kind of disappointed that I chose to read this book instead of something else.
    If there is a person out there who loves American history they should absolutely read this book. There is so much attention to detail that anyone into history could really fall into this book, for the right person this book has a lot of potential. On the other hand if a person isn't too into this book it could be completely dull. For me it was alright, I do enjoy history but not in such a bland matter.
    If a person wants to learn about the Bay of Pigs invasion I would look into a person story of someone who was actually part of the attack force. The reader may not get as much detail but it could be a little more interesting. Out of 5 stars I would give this book a 1 on a personal level. However for the style I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is pieced together in a very factual chronological order.

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