Spying for America: The Hidden History of U.S. Intelligence

Nathan Miller, Author Paragon House Publishers $24.95 (482p) ISBN 978-1-55778-186-4
Miller seeks to correct the common wisdom that U.S. military intelligence didn't amount to much until WW II. His chronicle begins with an account of George Washington as spymaster during the Revolutionary War. Although he demythologizes such supposed paragons as Nathan Hale and Belle Boyd, Miller takes an admiring look at some of the men and women who performed valuable service with a minimum of government support. After reaching its low point during the Mexican-American War (the War Department sent the campaigners a map of Mexico torn from an atlas), U.S. military intelligence entered its professional era during the Spanish-American War with Ralph Van Deman's intelligence bureau. Calling him the father of modern intelligence, Miller points out in passing that Van Deman also initiated the kind of domestic snooping that has led to civil-rights infringements ever since. Other pre-WW II figures include Herbert O. Yardley, whose code-breaking service during the 1920s was abruptly shut down by Secretary of State Henry Stimson with the immortal comment that gentlemen do not read each other's mail. The book's take on U.S. intelligence activities through WW II to the Iran- contra affair is adequate but undistinguished. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-440-20748-1
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