From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold Warby Robert M. Gates
As the only person to rise from entry-level analyst to Director of the CIA and to serve on the White House staffs of four Presidents, Robert Gates is uniquely qualified to tell the unprecedented
Written by a former director of the CIA, this is the story of America's and the agency's role in the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
As the only person to rise from entry-level analyst to Director of the CIA and to serve on the White House staffs of four Presidents, Robert Gates is uniquely qualified to tell the unprecedented inside story of the Cold War. Drawing on his access to classified information and top-level involvement in policy decisions, Gates lays bare the hidden wars and operations the United States waged against communism worldwide. Ever certain that the fifty-year struggle with the Soviet Union was indeed a war, Gates makes candid appraisals of Presidents, key officials, and policies of the period. Among his disclosures are: how Carter laid the foundations for Reagan's covert wars against the Soviets; CIA predictions of a conservative coup against Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Union; CIA and KGB "black operations" against each other; the secret relationship between Pope John Paul II and the Soviets; and three secret CIA-KGB summits.
From the Shadows is a classic memoir on the career of a CIA officer at the center of power during a time when the threat of global annihilation informed America's every move.
Focusing on the undeclared conflict that pitted the US against the USSR and its client states in venues ranging from Afghanistan to Poland, the author offers a notably candid chronological evaluation of what his agency contributed (or did not contribute) to the last 25 years of America's war against Communism. He also provides telling detail on the homefront hostilities in which CIA officials battled their counterparts at other agencies, justifiably wary lawmakers, and investigative reporters to remain in the good graces of the White House. Gates also explains that détente was the Nixon administration's pragmatic response to the CIA's failure to foresee the Soviet military buildup that began during the late 1960s, producing a singular shift in the global balance of power. He goes on to show that there was appreciably more continuity than is generally perceived between the Carter and Reagan eras, as far as effective challenges to Moscow's zeal for geopolitical adventurism were concerned. Covered as well are the CIA's prescient take on Mikhail Gorbachev's ouster, the agency's surprise at the overnight success of the Velvet Revolution that signalled the end of the Warsaw Pact, the cost of institutional lapses (including the treachery of Aldrich Ames), and the several secret CIA-KGB summits. The vetted text delivers a surprising measure of jocose particulars and tricks-of-the-trade disclosures. Nor does Gates neglect to settle some scores with out-of-office mandarins (George Schultz and others) who beat him into print.
A silent-service veteran's genuinely engrossing from-the- inside-out appraisal of an eventful period in the history of the US and the wider world.
- Simon & Schuster
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A fantastic read of a time period that I followed most of my life with great interest. And now, to be able to read an insider's account of history as it unfolded is very enlightening. It helps one to grasp how important a role our President plays in our country's foriegn policy. This book should be required reading for all students of modern day politics and history.
If You Want To Be a Fly on the Wall at CIA, the White House, and National Security Council "From the Shadows" is that opportunity. From college, to the USAF, to CIA, the the White House, Robert Gates takes you on a journey through five presidential administrations and a significant period of the Cold War. Because his positions were advisory or intelligence based, he avoids being partisan. His writing never becomes personal "for or against" but a snap shot of exactly what was going on at the time. He also describes Secretaries of State, Defense, Vice Presidents, Senators, foreign prime Ministers and leaders in candid detail. Not your typical "one man, one story" history. An amazing career covering Vietnam to the Fall of the Wall.
I have always been a Gates fan. He has served our country honorably and courageously for decades. His service in the intelligence community and in the White House is unique. The book is well written and an easy read, perhaps too easy. You can sit down and knock out 100 pages quickly. The material is covered with a very high level approach. No one can say that Gates got bogged down in the details. Overall, there is very little new here. Certainly no bombshells got dropped. The books has three recurring threads. First, events that the CIA was part, involved in, wrote about or even caused. The treatment of these events was interesting and insightful. The second thread deals with the criticisms leveled at the CIA or Gates himself by the media, the State Department or even a cabinet level Secretary. Gates seems preoccupied by defending the Agency and/or himself. The third thread includes many of the historical events that occurred during Gates’ tenure at the CIA or White House. Much of this is covered in a historically accurate, yet high level, manner. Much of it has little to do with the CIA or the White House and seems to be written about from a bystander point of view. I was interested in the first, did not care about the second and found the information in the third covered better in other books.