cover image Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone

Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone

Larry Devlin, . . Public Affairs, $26 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-58648-405-7

In this vivid, authoritative account of being CIA station chief in Congo during the height of the Cold War, Devlin brings to life a harrowing tale of postcolonial political intrigue, covert violence and the day-to-day reality of being a key player in a global chess match between superpowers. Posted to Congo in 1960, Devlin quickly found himself at the swirling center of conflict— the Belgian colonial rulers had pulled out, the local strongmen had begun what would be a decades-long struggle for power and the Soviet Union was sending agents to influence events. Arriving on the scene with his wife and young daughter in tow, Devlin finds "central authority had broken down; there was no one in control who could prevent random acts of barbarity." As the country begins to fall apart and Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba starts flirting with the Soviets, orders come from Washington for "his removal." Within weeks Lumumba is not only out of power but dead. While the rest of the book is full of exciting cloak-and-dagger derring-do and scrapes with death, it is this incident that haunts Devlin. He devotes the last chapter of the book to a point-by-point refutation of his or the agency's involvement in Lumumba's death. That alleged assassination is often used to illustrate the hypocrisy in U.S. foreign policy. Devlin's straightforward, plainly written approach to the task lends credence to his assertion of innocence. (Mar.)