Secret History of the CIA

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The CIA was founded on the best of intentions -- to battle the Soviet Empire during the Cold War. For over 50 years, hundreds of men and women in America's foremost intelligence agency have engaged nobly in espionage that was both risky and mysterious, in the name of national security. But the real CIA, as revealed in this eye-opening book, was an organization haunted from the very beginning by missed opportunities, internal rivalries, mismanagement, and Soviet moles.

In The Secret History of the CIA, you will descend into the murky underworld of double and triple agents, of divided loyalties and tortured souls, and of high-stakes operations that played out on virtually every continent. Nationally respected investigative journalist Joseph J. Trento peels away the shroud of secrecy that protected the CIA to reveal how the agency suffered from the profoundly human frailties of those who were chosen to lead it. For over a decade the author conducted countless interviews with legendary spymasters and pored through top-secret files to compile an engrossing history, rich with colorful characters and chilling intrigue. You'll come face-to-face with Igor Orlov, the cold-blooded Soviet double agent who infiltrated the upper echelons of American intelligence; James Angleton, the infamous CIA mole hunter, who implicated the Soviets in John F. Kennedy's assassination; George Weisz, the Hungarian emigrant who worked for the Soviets as he recruited Nazi scientists for the West; and many more.

Riveting and majestic in scope, this book takes you down the shadowy corridors of an organization comprised of America's best and brightest, whose thirst for power and influence compromised security, led to incredible mistakes that strengthened the Soviets, and, at the same time, resulted in the needless sacrifice of thousands of patriotic agents.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Citing legitimate governments ruined and thousands of lives lost, investigative reporter Trento (Widows) views the CIA as stunningly incompetent. He blames the agency's culture of arrogance for the waste of superior intellects and hundreds of millions of dollars. Trento vividly re-creates the day-to-day lives of key CIA agents during defining post-WWII events: the Cuban missile crisis; JFK's assassination; Vietnam; the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile; and Cold War espionage in the U.S. and Soviet Union. In Chile, for instance, the Nixon administration arranged a military coup to head off the Socialist Allende's presidency and abetted the assassination of the Chilean army's chief of staff, General Ren? Schneider, who wouldn't help "oust a democratically elected leader." Based on U.S. and Soviet records and reports and on hundreds of interviews with former CIA men and their families, the firsthand stories of moles, secret operations, assassination attempts and triple agents are equal to John le Carr?'s best. But Trento's provocative conclusions that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for the KGB and that Averell Harriman was probably a Communist sympathizer suffer from the poor credibility of his sources; his CIA has few heroes, many alcoholics, womanizers, deceitful bureaucratic infighters, outright liars and worse. Trento's prose sometimes reads like boilerplate spy thriller (peopled by "brilliant," "cunning" men and "beautiful and ambitious" women), but generally he does a good story justice, and he has ample opportunity here. (Oct.) Forecast: Recently released Cold War security documents are spawning numerous intelligence expos?s, and Trento's salable blend of gravitas and sensation willattract a wide readership. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756791353
  • Publisher: DIANE Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 12/1/2004
  • Pages: 542

Table of Contents

With Appreciation
1 Beria and Stalin 1
2 Enter Sasha 9
3 Human Poker 17
4 The Americans 25
5 The Cousins 33
6 The Battle to Control American Intelligence 41
7 George Weisz 51
8 Orlov: The Indispensable Man 61
9 Berlin: The New Frontline Base 69
10 The FBI Man in the CIA 75
11 Cover-Up and Promotion 85
12 Tough Guy in Berlin 93
13 A Missed Chance 99
14 Murphy and Friends 109
15 Cowboys in Berlin 117
16 Igor and the Ladies 127
17 Tunnel Vision 139
18 A Defector at Last 147
19 The Illegals 155
20 The Hungarian Debacle 163
21 Harvey Has Problems 171
22 Transition, Assassination, and Conscience 177
23 What Wall? 185
24 Assassination as Foreign Policy 191
25 The Kennedys as Case Officers 203
26 Khrushchev's Gambit 211
27 Oswald in Moscow 217
28 SR-9 223
29 The Kremlin Against Khrushchev 229
30 Penkovsky Reporting 235
31 No Questions Asked 241
32 He Found the Missiles - So Fire Him 249
33 The Long Knives 255
34 Blood Brings Blood 265
35 Hoover Saves Philby 271
36 Haunting Angleton 277
37 The Search 283
38 Closing In On SASHA 291
39 The Net Widens 299
40 The Perfect Operation 309
41 The Son-in-Law 315
42 Fatal Coup in Vietnam 327
43 Thong Nhut Street 337
44 The CIA and the Drug Lords 343
45 Losing Vietnam 351
46 Nixon Versus Kennedy's Ghost 361
47 Don't Cross Geneen 373
48 Blood and Judgment 389
49 Weisz in Germany 401
50 Pink Slip for Angleton 405
51 Who Needs Counterintelligence? 413
52 Christmas in Vienna 421
53 After Angleton 429
54 The Atomic Spy 435
55 Mole in the White House 441
56 Molekill 453
57 The End of the Cold War 465
Epilogue 473
Notes 481
Select Bibliography 513
Index 517
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2008

    An Unhappy Author

    I am sure there is a lot of information in this book, but it is hidden by an author that appears to have been refused either employment or interview by authorities. I am not, nor have I ever been, an employee of the CIA. Using rumour and unsupported opinion, the author weaves a confusing tail of intrigue. It is presented an an authorative reference document with copious footnotes -- that turn out to be author's notes of little value. Save your money and time. Skip this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009


    Very interesting, but sometimes boring.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2009

    interesting subject

    most of it was a good read

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2001

    The Dangers of No Accountability for Human Intelligence

    The Secret History of the CIA will shake whatever faith you have in undercover intelligence activities by the United States. From the beginning of the Cold War, the CIA (and its predecessors) and the FBI were riddled with double agents for the Soviet Union, Israel, and Cuba among others. But don¿t give the foreign intelligence agencies too much credit. U.S. operations were conducted with undue haste, laxness, inattention to detail, and questionable loyalty to ¿people with backgrounds like ours.¿ Key intelligence leaders and operatives are described as typically being drunks, morally corrupt, inept, and callous about others. In many ways, this history is a good parallel to The Sword and the Shield, which draws on the KGB¿s own secret history files. The books reinforce the fundamental message that the Western vulnerability to KGB efforts had its basis in many basic weaknesses within British and U.S. intelligence operations. The primary sources for this book are retired CIA intelligence and counter-intelligence operatives, many of whom insisted on either anonymity or having their stories told after their deaths. I can certainly see why they were reticent to make these horrible stories public while they were alive. The mistakes began with wide-open recruiting of former Nazis and their collaborators, which opened the door to long-time Soviet agents like Igor Orlov who appeared to have operated successfully until his death over 35 years later. Later, émigré groups were treated the same way, letting more double agents into U.S. intelligence. Counter-intelligence had its hands tied from the beginning because those who had recruited the former Nazis did not want their roles uncovered. If you are like me, you will be amazed at how those who bungled operations in Berlin from the beginning went on to head up important operations like Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos where they brought new disasters to the United States. One of the most appalling aspects of these stories is the way that hundreds of agents were lost, one right after another, due to leaks within the CIA¿s operations. In some cases, many died for information that wasn¿t even needed, because no one bothered to check. It was easier to let two hundred people go to prison or to their deaths. The book also details the many times that private citizens and political figures ran their own illegal intelligence operations, both in the United States and in the Soviet Union. The story about Lee Harvey Oswald¿s connection to the Soviet Union and to Cuba will fascinate you. The book argues that the assassination of John F. Kennedy had Soviet sponsorship, and was part of internal efforts to take power in the Soviet Union. The book is filled with U.S.-led efforts that manipulated elections, tried to keep leaders from office, attempted and performed political assassinations, and helped establish dictators. You will also learn about deals with the Mafia, opium smuggling, and routinely lying to Congress. But the biggest shocks for you will probably be how badly the CIA¿s ¿intelligence¿ misled U.S. policy makers about Soviet circumstances and intentions. Hundreds of billions of Cold War expenditures were probably needless, and Eastern Europe could possibly have been freed much sooner than occurred. The main weaknesses of this book are in making claims without listing the arguments against those claims, tending to wallow a bit too much in the personal dirt of sexual misconduct, and failing to be precise about the exact claims being made. Mr. Trento writes in a way that will get your attention, but you will find it hard to tell the differences between one person and another except for the main subjects (like Kim Philby, Jim Angleton, Igor Orlov, Bill Harvey, J. Edgar Hoover, Robert Kennedy, David Murphy, and George Weisz). As we begin the new efforts to counter terrorism, how can we avoid repeating the horrible mistakes that this book documen

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2009

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