cover image Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades

Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades

David Corn. Simon & Schuster, $27 (509pp) ISBN 978-0-671-69525-5

Based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews with former CIA officers, this is an informative biography of a ``company man'' who ran secret wars against Cuba and Laos in the 1960s, managed intelligence operations in Vietnam and rose to the rank of associate deputy director of operations at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. Primarily a desk officer (``a spy in a grey flannel suit''), Ted Shackley contributed significantly to the de-emphasis within the agency on classic intelligence gathering in favor of covert operations. (During the Vietnam War, the CIA was often accused of running a separate war against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese.) Portrayed in these pages as a colorless, coldly efficient workaholic, Shackley had such a low profile that Corn has trouble presenting him other than two-dimensionally. ``People who hold the secrets,'' he argues somewhat defensively, ``do not necessarily have to be deep or interesting.'' The book does, however, provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the secretive agency, throughout the 1960s and '70s. Corn is Washington editor of the Nation. Photos. (Oct.)