Book Description

From Publishers Weekly Following his 1951 appointment as chief of the CIA's operations arm, Frank Wisner recruited two Harvard-trained Wall Street lawyers, Desmond FitzGerald and Tracy Barnes, and a Yale economics professor, Richard Bissell, to build the agency's clandestine service, later known as the 'department of dirty tricks.' Coming from similar backgrounds, they shared the same values and were passionately committed to standing up to the Soviet challenge with covert action. In this excellent group biography, Thomas (The Man to See), assistant managing editor and bureau chief at Newsweek, describes how they waged their secret war boldly, sometimes recklessly, and reveals how each was caught between his own sense of decency and the harsh dictates of his trade. In their roles in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the agency's involvement with the Mafia and the bizarre attempts to get rid of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, they were unable to reconcile themselves to the moral ambiguities of the job. Thomas is the first outsider to be given access to the CIA's own secret histories, and there is much new material here on agency operations, especially in relation to Cuba. First serial to Civilization. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more From Library Journal This excellent addition to material on the early years of the CIA covers the heyday of the Cold War, from the middle 1940s to the middle 1960s. The book focuses on the careers of four operatives: Frank Wisner, Richard Bissell, Tracy Barnes, and Desmond FitzGerald, all of whom helped guide the covert actions and growth of the CIA. Bissell was best known owing to his involvement in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, but Wisner, as the early director of covert operations, was the key figure in the agency's early history. All four appear to have been more interested in the big operation, which could go spectacularly wrong, than in the slow process of intelligence gathering. Much of this same material is covered in Burton Hersh's more critical The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA (LJ 2/15/92). The author, a managing editor at Newsweek, also co-wrote The Wise Men (LJ 10/15/86), which was similar in approach. Recommended for espionage collections of public and academic libraries.?Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., ChicagoCopyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more See all Editorial Reviews