The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future

Chris Whipple. Scribner, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-1-9821-0640-9
Former 60 Minutes producer Whipple (The Gatekeepers) delivers a well-documented look at the job of the CIA director, “the person who must tell the president what he doesn’t want to hear.” Opening in 2016, when CIA chief John Brennan learned of Russian efforts to influence the presidential election, Whipple examines the inherent conflict between the agency’s role in gathering and analyzing intelligence and the political nature of the director’s job. He compares Richard Nixon’s attempts to obstruct the Watergate inquiry by claiming it was a covert CIA operation to Donald Trump’s conflicts with intelligence agencies; describes the different managerial styles of directors he’s interviewed, including George Tenet and Leon Panetta; and details notable CIA operations from the 1960s through today. Though unsparing in his appraisal of intelligence community failures, such as not anticipating the fall of the Shah in Iran and allowing Aldrich Ames to funnel secrets to the Soviet Union, Whipple disputes the “notion that the CIA has bungled its way through the last fifty years.” His suggested reforms for improving CIA performance include a fixed 10-year term for directors (as is the case in the FBI), and strengthening whistleblower protections. Whipple makes excellent use of insider accounts and provides enough color to keep readers turning the pages. This well-written and accessible survey illuminates a neglected role in American history. Agent: Lisa Queen, the Queen Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 04/14/2020
Release date: 04/28/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0050-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4711-9149-7
Show other formats
Discover what to read next