The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA

John Ranelagh, Author Simon & Schuster $22.45 (847p) ISBN 978-0-671-44318-4
Ranelagh, a British writer, provides here a major overview of the Central Intelligence Agency from its founding in 1947 to the present. Based largely on hundreds of interviews, the book examines the personality and policies of each director in the context of the times. The agency's public posture is traced in detail: how, for instance, its agents began the '60s as ""closet heroes,'' emerging as public heroes in the Cuban missile crises only to become public villains as a result of the Vietnam War. Favorable emphasis is placed on the contribution of William Colby, the most beleaguered of the directors, whose voluntary disclosures laid open the agency's inner workings, ``giving onlookers the extraordinary spectacle of a secret service having its secrets revealed by the nation on whose behalf it operated.'' Colby's successor, George Bush, is also given high marks, especially for the way he overcame the public's initial skepticism about his abilities. As to William Casey, the current director, Ranelagh draws no conclusions, though he does call him insensitive and ``unhaunted by ideals.'' Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Paperback - 869 pages - 978-0-671-63994-5
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