Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake


Current Topics
Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror, by Erik Prince.

Out of The Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla, by David Kilcullen.

Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy, by Kenneth M. Pollack.


America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, by Hugh Wilford.

Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize, by Sean B. Carroll.

The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, by Stephen Kinzer.

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger.

Mrs Zigzag: The Extraordinary Life of a Secret Agent’s Wife, by Betty Chapman and Ronald L. Bonewitz.

Reflections of Honor: The Untold Story of a Nisei Spy, by Lorraine War and Katherine Erwin, with Yoshinobu Oshiro.

The Secret War for the Middle East: The Influence of Axis and Allied Intelligence Operations during World War II, by Youssef Aboul-Enein and Basil Aboul-Enein.

Secret Intelligence in the European States System, 1918-1989, edited by Jonathan Haslam and Karina Urbach.

The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel, by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy.

Spy Chronicles: Adventures in Espionage from the American Revolution to the Cold War, by E. L. Sanders.

Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973, by Oscar

Tales From the Special Forces Club: The Untold Stories of Britain’s Elite WW II Warriors, by Sean Rayment.

A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior, by Mark A. Bradley.


Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA, by John Rizzo.

My CIA: Memories of a Secret Career, by Christopher David Costanzo.


Intelligence Abroad
Re-energising Indian Intelligence, by Manoj Shrivastava.



Current Topics

Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror, by Erik Prince. (Portfolio/Penguin, 2013) 404 pp., endnotes, photos, no index.

During the war in Iraq, private security firms were hired to protect civilian US government employees. By late 2007, Blackwater Security Consulting (BSC) had become the most well known and controversial of these companies. Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince notes in his “set-the-record- straight” account, Civilian Warriors, “in the court of public opinion…we were mercenaries…cowboys… paid too much…beholden to no one—Bush’s private army, run by a Roman Catholic war profiteer.”(206) His book, which addresses the now widely discussed September 2007 incident in Nisour Square, Baghdad, offers a different interpretation.

The Nisour Square case, which continues in litigation to this day, involves the killing of civilians by a Blackwater security team as it was clearing a route for a diplomatic convoy.1 Civilian Warriors describes a Blackwater team in a high threat environment reacting to an approaching car which did not obey instructions and thus was assumed  to be carrying a bomb. As it turned out it was only carrying a medical student and his mother. As the team reacted, it began taking AK-47 fire from insurgents. In the firefight that ensued, numerous innocent civilians were killed along with attackers. (207–220) The resulting controversy led to indictments in the United States and testy congressional appearances and became the tipping point for Blackwater’s departure from Iraq after its contract was terminated in 2009. Prince describes events that led up to that turning point and the changes the company underwent as a result.

The earlier chapters cover Prince’s home life, his education—the Naval Academy and Hillsdale College—and service as a Navy SEAL. It was his SEAL experience that led him to create Blackwater in 1997. It evolved into a major security firm under contract to the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the CIA; created its own training facility; and provided highly skilled security teams with the latest weapons, armored vehicles, and helicopters, quickly and wherever needed. Prince claims Blackwater never lost a person it was tasked to protect.

As Prince relates, Blackwater gradually acquired a reputation as an elite security organization that could also perform special operations when tasked. In some eyes it competed or threatened to compete with elements in the government with similar responsibilities but without so many legal constraints. This fact, perhaps more than any other, contributed to Blackwater’s bureaucratic vulnerability, legal problems,and ultimate downfall.

Civilian Warriors deals with these issues in considerable detail. It explains why Blackwater changed its name—first to Xe Services and then to ACADEMI—and why Prince left the company to start a new security organization. In the end, he notes, “If I had it to do all over again, I’m not sure I would.” (310) He provides a detailed critique of government behavior that led him to that conclusion. It is an interesting book, with many lessons to be learned.


Out of The Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla, by David Kilcullen. (Oxford University Press, 2013) 342, endnotes, appendices, photos, index.

David Kilcullen is a former Australian Army officer who served as civilian adviser on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism to US Army Gen. David Petraeus. An earlier book of Kilcullen’s, The Accidental Guerrilla, argued persuasively that to deal successfully with counterinsurgencies, nations must address the social conditions that lead to the creation of “accidental” guerrillas who would do the bidding of insurgents and terrorists.2 Concentrating on the terrorist groups and their leaders alone would not solve the problem. In Out of the Mountains, Kilcullen considers what may follow as “the Western military involvement in Afghanistan comes to an end,” leaving a new form of counterinsurgency in its wake. (16)

Kilcullen sees four drivers that will shape conflict in the future: “population growth, urbanization (the tendency for people to live in larger and larger cities), littoralization (the propensity for cities to cluster on coastlines), and connectedness (increasing connectivity among people no matter where they live).” (28) Out of the Mountains examines each driver and its historical precedents before discussing its likely effects on future conflicts. He is careful to stress that future problems will not have just military solutions. But, as his four drivers suggest, the military and intelligence challenges, as influenced by simultaneous “land, sea, airspace, and cyberspace overlap,” will “exponentially increase the difficulty… for understanding [the impact of] any maneuver through the littoral zones.” (169)

Kilcullen concludes by observing, “None of what I’ve written describing the future environment is a prediction.” At best this is something of a semantic dodge. True, he does not imply that any specific events and circumstances used as examples will occur. But when he writes, “It is time for the generation who fought the war [in Afghanistan] to take what they learned in the hills and valleys of a landlocked conflict [and] to think about the coming age of urban, networked, guerrilla war on megaslums and mega-cities of a coastal planet,” he is very close to a prediction that preparedness is needed. It should not be dismissed.


Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy, by Kenneth M. Pollack. (Simon & Schuster, 2013) 536 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.

What policy should America adopt if sanctions and negotiations fail to convince Iran to end its nuclear weapons program? According to former CIA analyst and Middle East expert Kenneth Pollack, in September 2012, the US Senate and the president ruled out “any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.” (279) Pollack, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, strongly disagrees with this decision. He would prefer “to see the United States opt for containment rather than war,” while acknowledging that few now support this alternative and many consider it unthinkable.

In this new book, Pollack recognizes his preference is the lesser of two bad choices only after three other options have failed. The first of these is the current “carrot and stick” approach. The second is implementation of a plan for regime change before “the current ruling leadership acquires a nuclear capability.” (104) Absent success in these efforts, the third option is an Israeli military strike, and even that, Pollack notes, would only delay Iran’s program. The first of the two bad options following the above three, he argues, would inevitably involve a US military operation that in all likelihood would lead to an invasion and a war that would make the latest Iraq War seem like a mere exercise. Containment is the second bad choice, but it has the advantage that it would rely on diplomatic isolation and economic pressure through sanctions, as much as the threat of military action.

Before analyzing each option and the likely Iranian response, in step by step detail, Pollack considers the Iranian threat and the potential for proliferation should Iran acquire nuclear weapons capability. Regarding threat, he argues “it is not the possession of nuclear weapons per se that creates a threat to American interests in the Middle East.” Rather, the point is that Iran “means us harm.” (65) As to proliferation, he sees less of a threat. He believes Iran, for reasons of self-interest, is unlikely to share its weapons with third parties, for example, Hezbollah.

With respect to containment, which he addresses fully in the final part of the book, he states, “A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained.” (280)  Other observers have suggested containment is a variation of deterrence that would require a US military presence in the region and risk war. Pollack elaborates his disagreement with both positions carefully and then suggests how he would combine them under conditions that take the risks into account.

Unthinkable offers credible reasons for choosing containment over war should Iran acquire a nuclear capability. It is an alternative worth serious thought.

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America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, by Hugh Wilford. (Basic Books, 2013) 342 pp., endnotes, photos, index.

In America’s Great Game, professor of history at California State University, Long Beach, Hugh Wilford, tells how a trio of American Arabists worked to shape and sometimes implement US policy in the Middle East for a decade beginning in the late 1950s. Two were grandsons of Theodore Roosevelt. For Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt, interest in the Middle East ran in the family. His aunt, Mary Willard—of Willard Hotel fame—was married to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, one of the discoverers of King Tut’s tomb. Kim’s first cousin, Archie Roosevelt, grew up reading about the Orient in his grandfather’s library and pursued his interest at Groton Prep and Harvard, both of which Kim also attended. Both traveled in the Middle East before WW II and had a number of government assignments before they arrived in Egypt—Kim with OSS and Archie with the Army G2 in 1944. After the war, the two followed different paths to the CIA.

The third member of the trio, Miles Copeland, had a much different background. After dropping out of the University of Alabama, he became a professional trumpet player and served in Europe with the Army Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) during the war. Afterward he joined the Strategic Services Unit—the clandestine element that survived the dissolution of the OSS—in the War Department. He followed it to the CIA, where he met the Roosevelt brothers. Details about Copeland’s service are less firmly documented, as Wilford is careful to note. As Copeland acknowledged in his memoir, he was content to embellish where it made the story more interesting.3 But it is clear that he became an Arabist when he was posted to Damascus in September 1947 as chief of station (COS). (72) He flew there on the same plane with Archie Roosevelt, who had been appointed COS Beirut; Kim Roosevelt arrived in Beirut two days later, in Wilford’s words, “passing through on another of his slightly mysterious regional tours.” (72–73)

In addition to following the careers of these three Arabists, America’s Great Game establishes the political context for their work. In 1947, the State Department had strongly anti-Zionist, pro-Arab nationalist elements. They were led by former OSS officer and experienced Arabist, William Eddy, who promoted pro-Arab policies with missionary zeal. Initially, the CIA subscribed to Eddy’s views, and Kim even established a lobbying group—the American Friends of the Middle East, later funded by the CIA—to develop public support. (130–31) It did not succeed. In the field, Archie and Miles Copeland undertook operations aimed at building public support for the United States while implementing Cold War policies to block growing Soviet influence in the region.

Between 1949 and 1957, Copeland and Archie established agent networks in Syria, Beirut, and Cairo to stay on top of local political turbulence. When instability threatened, they turned to coup attempts, failing in Syria and infamously succeeding in Iran. Their goal was nonimperial, “disinterested benevolence” to further Arab nationalism in the American image. (297) Wilford describes the byzantine conditions in the region, which were complicated by the administration’s policy toward Israel. Along the way, he stresses that agent reporting indicated that CIA efforts were pushing Middle Eastern regimes closer to Moscow. Despite the excellent contacts CIA developed with new Egyptian leaders—a process Copeland characterized as “cryptodiplomacy” (190)—they failed to sway Nasser. And when the State Department could not accept Nasser’s nonaligned policies, he turned to the Soviets.

After his tour in Syria, Copeland returned to Headquarters before resuming his Middle East work. Kim resigned shortly after the successful Iranian coup. Only Archie made a career of it, serving in Madrid and London after his Arabist days, and retiring when he concluded that the CIA, after the Angleton mole hunt and the “family jewels” affair, “had lost its founding esprit de corps and was no longer a happy place to work.” (295)

America’s Great Game suggests the CIA’s “founding esprit de corps” was applied to misguided US policies, the results of which have hampered relations ever since.


Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize, by Sean B. Carroll. (Crown Publishers, 2013) 582  pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

During WW II, Jacques Monod (alias: Martel) was first a member of the French Communist resistance group Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP) and later the Free French Forces of the Interior (FFI). In the fall of 1943, the FTP was in need of arms and support to prepare for the upcoming invasion of France. When promises from London were not kept, Monod turned to his brother, Philo, also a member of the resistance. Philo, an attorney who had worked for the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in New York, had established contact with Allen Dulles in Bern. After a risky, surreptitious border crossing, the brothers met Dulles in Switzerland to arrange for the exchange of intelligence and supplies.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Albert Camus (alias: Albert Mathé, later simply Bauchard) was writing inspiring propaganda for an underground newspaper, Combat, that would make him famous after the war. Both Monod and Camus would receive Nobel Prizes—Monod for biology, Camus for literature. Brave Genius tells the story of these remarkable men, who didn’t meet until after the war.

Author Sean Carroll, a professor of microbiology and genetics at the University of Wisconsin, has arranged his book in four parts. Part one deals with the lives of Monod and Camus until the German occupation of France. The second part is devoted to their actions with the resistance until liberation. Part three describes their postwar meeting, developing friendship, and common philosophical views. Both had joined and then rejected the communists, realizing the seriousness of the communist threat to the world and especially to literature and science. Both spoke out against it. Here, Carroll examines Camus’s postwar writings, Monod’s research and Monod’s outspoken attacks on Soviet science, especially the fraudulent geneticist Trofim Lysenko. Part four discusses their relationship in the post-Stalin era, how they dealt with the Soviet invasion of Hungary, their engagement with civil rights protests in France, and how they managed their work.

Camus received his Nobel Prize in 1957 and died in a car crash three years later. Monod received his in 1965 and went on to become director of the Pasteur Institute, dying in 1976. Carroll has used letters and recently released documents to tell this unusual story of war, science, and literature. A very interesting and worthwhile contribution.


The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, by Stephen Kinzer. (Times Books, 2013) 402 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

Stephen Kinzer’s dual biography of John Foster and Allen Dulles will very likely be viewed differently by those whose world view was formed in the early Cold War era and those who came of age during the Vietnam War. The former group will tend to interpret Foster’s statecraft and Allen’s operations as necessary responses to Soviet aggression. Many in the latter group will hold the brothers responsible for interventionist foreign policies that resulted in world-wide disdain for, if not hatred of the United States.

Although Kinzer belongs to the Vietnam-era group, he presents a solid, if unsympathetic, account of the brothers’ privileged, Christian upbringing and education, and he addresses the social and political forces that shaped their public and private lives. The Brothers calls attention to their similarities—graduates of Princeton and the George Washington University law school, partners at the powerful New York corporate law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, married with families, and increasingly anti-communist.

It also highlights their sharp differences. Kinzer characterizes Foster as monogamous and power-seeking, a brilliant lawyer and effective statesman, whose presence produced enduring boredom. Allen, on the other hand, appears as adventurous, a reluctant lawyer, and a serial womanizer with a passion for espionage and covert action.

Kinzer portrays their paths to power from their attendance at the WW I Paris Peace Conference to their WW II service—Foster as a civilian concerned with global cooperation and domestic politics, Allen as an OSS officer—to the Eisenhower administration. The Brothers deals at length with their Cold War government service, Foster as secretary of state, Allen as director of central intelligence.

The Dulles brothers, according to Kinzer, viewed their primary missions as the containment, if not the rolling back, of global Soviet-led communism “by any means no matter how distasteful.” (115) A secondary mission, necessary to the success of the first, was “defending the interests of multinational corporations.” (116) These objectives were supported by the president, but Kinzer questions them and attempts to show the fallacies in them through his analysis of now familiar interventions in Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cuba. Kinzer’s treatment of covert actions in Europe and Africa is driven by the same predispositions.

While the final chapter of The Brothers comments on other seemingly unjustified CIA and State Department operations, Kinzer also acknowledges that “the passage of time and the end of the Cold War, make it difficult to grasp the depth of the fear that gripped many Americans during the 1950s.” Moreover, Kinzer continues, “The narrative of permanent threat that Foster relentlessly promoted, was not fabricated.” But, he quickly adds, “Foster and Allen were the chief promoters of that fear,” and “they exaggerated the threat.” (312, 315) Kinzer leaves the impression that the brothers’ legacy, then, is a mix of short term successes and strategic failures that might have been avoided if the Dulles brothers had had a different world view.


George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. (Penguin, 2013) 257 pp., bibliography, photos, index.

The British defeat at Saratoga in October 1777 led to official French support and caused the British troops then occupying Philadelphia to return to New York to reinforce the king’s contingent there. General Washington and his army pursued the British all the way, and after the battle of Monmouth, he established his headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, to await the arrival of French troops. It was important to know what the British were doing in New York so that Washington could, if possible, prevent them from interdicting the French. Thus he needed intelligence about British movements and intentions. After several unsuccessful attempts to recruit agents in the city, he turned to Major Benjamin Tallmadge and tasked him with the mission. The Culper Ring was the result.

Working through a childhood friend, Abraham Woodhull (alias: Samuel Culper), five other agents were recruited: Robert Townsend (alias: Samuel Culper, Jr.), Caleb Brewster, Austin Roe, James Rivington, and a woman known even today only as agent 355. George Washington’s Secret Six tells their stories.

Authors Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger recount the ring’s experiences and methods of operation, interspersed with background on the participants and their families. They also retell the story of Nathan Hale’s introduction to military espionage, presumably to give the readers perspective because he was long dead when the Culper Ring was created. While they often quote from letters, they also invoke literary license and present imaginary dialogue between principals, including imagined musings of George Washington (9), all without citing a single source or adding any new facts. The result is easy reading but troubling history.

This is not the first book about the Culper Ring. Alexander Rose’s Washington’s Spies covers the same material with less speculation, better insights, and source notes.4 George Washington’s Secret Six tends to overstate the Culper Ring’s results. It does not come close to demonstrating that it was the spy ring “that saved the revolution.” In short, this is Revolutionary War history lite. Read with care.


Mrs Zigzag: The Extraordinary Life of a Secret Agent’s Wife, by Betty Chapman and Ronald L. Bonewitz. (Stroud, UK: The History Press, 2013) 190 pp., endnotes, photos, index.

Zigzag was one of the Double Cross agents run by MI5 during WW II. He was known to his German handlers as FRITZCHEN. His true name was Arnold Edward Chapman. The story of his espionage career and personal life has been told in a movie, on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, in his autobiography, and in two recent books, one authorized (Zigzag, by Nicholas Booth) and one not (Agent Zigzag, by Ben Macintyre). And now his wife has written her memoir with a foreword by Nigel West that discusses how Chapman’s MI5 handler met him. The book itself reveals what it was like to be married to a safecracker, con man, and adulterer, who was also the father of her daughter and the most controversial double agent to work for the Germans and the British.

Since Mrs. Chapman cooperated with Booth for Zigzag, there is little new in Mrs Zigzag. She is convinced that Eddy, as he was known, was loyal only to the British, but she offers nothing new to put any doubts—of which there are many—to rest. She does add new details about their postwar life and their conflict with MI5 as they battled to publish his memoir and turn it into a movie. She tells of meetings with Compton Mackenzie and Alfred Hitchcock and lunch with Richard Burton—once considered for the leading role—and Elizabeth Taylor, as the couple worked to get MI5’s approval to make the movie, initially for naught. They finally filmed in France, with Christopher Plummer as Eddy—Betty said he was miscast (115)—and Yul Brynner as his German handler, Baron von Gröning. Titled Triple Cross, the movie was not an Oscar contender.

Betty is candid about their life together, with all its financial problems—she was the estate manager when they had one to manage—and Eddy’s infidelities. She defends him to the end, still furious that MI5 never gave him a pension or an award.

Mrs Zigzag is the only book to describe life with a WW II double agent. It is by no means typical, and it fills a gap.


Reflections of Honor: The Untold Story of a Nisei Spy, by Lorraine Ward and Kathrine Erwin with Yoshinobu Oshiro. (University of Hawaii at Mãnoa, 2014) 126 pp., bibliography, photos, index.

The internment of Japanese civilian residents and Nisei—second generation Japanese born in the United States—during WW II is a well-known, appalling, fact. Not so well known is that there were two Nisei NCOs serving in the US Army Counter Intelligence Police (CIP) before Pearl Harbor. They were not interned and served throughout the war. One of these men, Richard Sakakida, spent much of the war as a POW, and his story is highlighted in America’s Secret War: The Untold Story of the Counterintelligence Corps.5 Reflections of Honor is a brief biography of the other NCO, Arthur Komori.

After training in Hawaii, both NCOs were sent to the Philippines in April, 1941. Their assignment was to penetrate the Japanese community in Manila and identify those involved in espionage against the United States and the Philippines. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Army arrested Japanese loyal to Tokyo, and, to protect their cover, Sakakida and Komori were jailed as well. Their Counterintelligence Corps—the new name for the CIP—handlers rescued them before the Japanese invaded the Philippines, and they escaped with MacArthur to Corregidor, where they served as interpreters. Sakakida would eventually be captured by the Japanese, but Komori made it to Australia after a harrowing trip by air.

Komori was given further intelligence training in Australia and then served on MacArthur’s G2 staff and subsequently again in the Philippines. After the Japanese surrender, he was assigned to Tokyo, where he was the personal interpreter for the chief of the CIC. Komori remained in the CIC after the war and served first as a security agent during the Eniwetok Atoll atom bomb tests. He later taught in the CIC School at Ft. Holabird, MD, before accepting a commission as a captain in the Air Force. After completing his military career, he went to law school and retired to Hawaii.

Reflections of Honor is a powerful tale of loyalty and professionalism under precedent-setting conditions.


Secret Intelligence in the European States System, 1918-1989, edited by Jonathan Haslam and Karina Urbach. (Stanford University Press, 2014) 246 pp., end-of-chapter notes, index.

In his history of the United States from its founding until the end of the War of Independence, historian George Bancroft wrote, “I think I might say that my materials in their completeness are unique.”6 It follows, then, that the absence of any mention of strategic intelligence reflects the author’s belief that it played no significant role. Cambridge historians Jonathan Haslam and Karina Urbach note that this interpretation of the role of intelligence persisted well into the 20th century. Before then, orthodox historians treated secret intelligence in international relations with “sniffy indifference.” (2)

But as more materials became public and existing ones were given serious attention, historians like David Kahn, Ernest May, Roy Godson, Christopher Andrew, and Sir Harry Hinsley demolished the old orthodoxy. The contributions to Secret Intelligence in the European States System build on their precedents by assessing the impact of strategic intelligence on seven topics, while setting out the scholarly prerequisites for future historians.

Haslam begins with an analysis of Stalin’s unique use of human intelligence and the resultant tragic impact its findings had on his subordinates and the nation’s strategic decisions. Stanford historian David Holloway follows with a fascinating study of Soviet atomic espionage and Stalin’s influence on the Soviet atom bomb program. Then there are two accounts of how French decisionmakers applied—or misapplied—intelligence. The first, by University of Virginia historian Stephen Schuker, considers the interwar period, when French leaders ignored facts. The second, by French historian Georges-Henri Soutou, looks at French intelligence in East Asia after the war, when new leaders again ignored the facts. University of Warwick historian, Richard Aldrich, contributes a study of British intelligence during the Cold War that examines the difference intelligence made by analyzing “arguments over money.” (150)

The final two articles deal with the East and West German intelligence services respectively. Oliver Bange, who teaches at the German Army Military Research Council, analyzes the contributions of East German intelligence (the Stasi) to the political illusions of GDR leaders. Holger Afflerbach, professor of Central European history at the University of Leeds, reviews the influence of the West German intelligence services during the Cold War, with emphasis on military espionage and its political importance.

Secret Intelligence in the European States System confirms two important principles. First, to be valuable, intelligence must take into account the social, political, economic, and technological issues related to the questions addressed. And second, consumers must interpret the results properly. These are age-old, but important, lessons.


The Secret War for the Middle East: The Influence of Axis and Allied Intelligence Operations during World War II, by Youssef Aboul-Enein and Basil Aboul-Enein. (Naval Institute Press, 2013) 263 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.

A disillusioned T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) left the Middle East in October 1918, after Britain refused to honor a previous commitment to recognize Arab sovereignty over Syria and instead created new British and French mandates. He made one partially successful attempt to correct the situation. At the request of Winston Churchill, then head of the Colonial Office, he participated in the 1921 Cairo Conference, where the present Middle Eastern nations were created, each with a Western-sponsored head of state. Lawrence foresaw that the arrangement was a recipe for instability. The Secret War for the Middle East affirms and expands on that view, with emphasis on competing Axis and Allied intelligence operations during WW II, which sought to influence, if not control, the military and economic forces in the region.

US Navy Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein, currently the chair of Islamic studies at NDU, and his younger brother Basil begin their book on this seldom-discussed topic with a review of prewar political intrigues and intelligence and propaganda operations during that volatile period. They go on to examine the effects on operations of anticolonialism and Arab nationalism, which were expediently pro-Nazi, even as wartime conditions required nominal cooperation with the Allies. As policies were applied differently by different players, there is a chapter devoted to each country or mandate—Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Egypt. In the end, the authors set the stage for tumultuous postwar events that have yet to be resolved.

Aspects of The Secret War for the Middle East worth highlighting include the authors’ use of Arabic sources, but just what these sources contributed is difficult to determine. For example, they cite al Qa‘ida manuals discussing WW II intelligence and deception operations, but they do not discuss how this interesting topic fits in. (189)

Unfortunately, the book is chronologically choppy and semantically awkward—badly in need of a good editor. The Aboul-Enein brothers have analyzed a crucial topic, one that intelligence officers should take the time to study.


The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel, by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy. (Penguin Books, 2013) 319 pp., photos, index.

Ten young terrorists left Pakistan in a small boat with their handlers on 22 November 2008. They had been indoctrinated and trained for a year by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a terrorist organization based in Pakistan. Two days out they hijacked a trawler and forced the captain to head for Mumbai. The handlers returned to Pakistan but kept in continuous contact by satellite telephone. GPS devices were used to navigate. On 26 November, they slit the captain’s throat, sank the trawler, and then rowed a dinghy into Mumbai harbor. Operation Bombay was beginning its final phase. Their mission was to “create maximum chaos” (121) by killing Jews and tourists—American and British if possible—while avoiding harm to Muslims. One team of two attacked the Chabad House, a Jewish welfare center. Another sprayed automatic weapons fire into the crowd at the main railway terminal. A third made stops at a restaurant, a cinema, and a hospital, leaving victims at each scene. Two teams attacked and set fire to the iconic five-star Raj Hotel. Four days later, 166 people had died—including nine of the terrorists—and more than 300 were injured. The remaining terrorist was captured. The Siege recounts the entire operation in often disturbing detail.

British journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy devote most attention to the attack on the Raj. Based on interviews with survivors and various government officials, they describe the room-by-room havoc wreaked by the attack team in the hotel. The authors are critical of the often muddled Indian police reactions, which only prolonged the violence. Of at least equal interest are their accounts of LeT recruitment, indoctrination, planning, and training. The actions of the Pakistani and Indian security and intelligence services involved are also examined, especially their dismissal of American and British warnings of the Mumbai attack.

Complicating these events is the role of David Headley—born Daood Saleem Gilani—the son of a Pakistani father and American mother. Headley, a drug smuggler, was arrested and turned by the DEA into a valued source. He was also an LeT agent—he reconnoitered the Mumbai targets—and, the authors suggest, was also working much of the time for other elements of “the US Intelligence Community.” (xiv)

There are no source notes in The Siege. The impressive detail is the result of hundreds of interviews with participants on all sides—even the families of the terrorists—and court documents. It is a troubling tale of what twisted ideology can produce, and it offers no prospect that the results of such ideologies will end any time soon.


Spy Chronicles: Adventures in Espionage from the American Revolution to the Cold War, by E. L. Sanders. (E. L. Sanders, 2013) 180 pp., bibliography, no index. (Kindle ebook only.)

The 15 stories in Spy Chronicles begin with Nathan Hale and end with Robert Hanssen. In between, author E. L. Sanders includes John Andre, the Civil War male impersonator Sarah Emma Edmonds; Sir Robert Baden-Powell (not really a spy); Mata Hari (not a very successful one); and Fritz Duquesne, who ran a Nazi spy ring in New York City. These are followed by “Ace of Spies” Sidney Reilly; Richard Sorge, curiously listed as a “Playboy Spy”; Sir William Stephenson, head of the British station in New York during WW II; double agent Juan Pujol (GARBO); and Stephanie von Hohenlohe, “the Nazi Princess Spy” and later an OSS source. The final stories discuss the Cambridge Five; the Rosenbergs; and the Vietnamese intelligence officer who fooled the Americans, Pham Xuan An.

The book’s casual, easy style suggests the author is genuinely familiar with the subjects, but this appears not entirely to be the case. Unhampered by scholarship, Sanders relies entirely on secondary sources—unattributed quotes are frequent—with the predictable results: well-known errors are perpetuated.

A few examples establish the point. Contrary to Sanders’s claims, there is no evidence that Sarah Edmonds was a spy for General McClelland or anyone else; that fairy tale grew out of her memoir.7 A more depressing error occurs when William Melville is identified as the “first head of MI6”; Mansfield Smith-Cumming held that honor. The chapter on Stephenson states he was friends with Winston Churchill; no evidence has yet been found that they ever met. Further to this dodgy chapter, neither was Stephenson’s codename “INTREPID” nor did he have anything to do with Enigma.

The Cambridge Five chapter makes a generous contribution to their mythical legend; Anthony Blunt was neither a man without a country nor the first to be recruited—he was the fourth. And John Cairncross was hardly the “most minor” of the five, as his service at Bletchley suggests. Philby, Burgess, and Donald Maclean did not serve in Washington together, and Maclean was never a member of the Apostles (a secret society at Cambridge). One last error—though regrettably many others could be mentioned—is the suggestion that the material the Rosenbergs passed to the Soviets was unimportant misses the point; they did not know the value of the atomic secrets they passed. Spy Chronicles should have been fact-checked. Caveat lector!


Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973, by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera. (Bloomberg Press, 2013) 472 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

In July 1948, the Chilean government had passed the Law for the Permanent Defense of Democracy, which banned the communist party. What became known as “the Dammed Law,” was blamed on a secret deal arranged by President Harry Truman. As a result, many party leaders were placed in the Pisagua concentration camp. When Senator Salvador Allende attempted to visit colleagues at Pisagua, he was stopped by the camp director, Lt. Augusto Pinochet. (63–65) Books would eventually be written about both men, Story of a Death Foretold is Allende’s story, with Pinochet in a disturbing role.

Author Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, a teacher at the University of London, has written a political biography that dwells forcefully on Allende’s strengths and gently on his flaws. A lifetime Marxist, Allende is characterized as an advocate of “revolution from below,” (116) a theme that resonated with many voters. Guardiola-Rivera recounts Allende’s jerky path to power and devotes considerable attention to the people, party relationships, and circumstances that made it possible. He includes a disturbing, longtime pattern of persistent self-serving interference in Chilean and Latin American affairs by the United States. The attempts by the Nixon administration and CIA to prevent emergence of another Cuban-style regime are prominent, though now it is an old story, and nothing new has been added here.

Allende’s performance in power is covered in detail, but whether he was aware of the impact of his actions on the United States and Britain or the risk of their reaction, Guardiola-Rivera does not say. He does stress Allende’s commitment to “democracy” and his opposition to the use of force. And in the end, he shows it was Allende’s inability to make the economy work that led to opposition plans to topple his government. At a final meeting with Pinochet—by then head of the army—on 9 September 1973, Allende made his intention to compromise clear and convinced himself of Pinochet’s continued support. (258) On 11 September 1973, by then under attack, Allende still refused to call out the army to defend the presidential palace and committed suicide instead. Although not a member of the original plot, Pinochet quickly took over. Guardiola-Rivera documents the cultural destruction and human disappearances that followed all over the world.

One thing Guardiola-Rivera does not document or even mention is the evidence supplied by Vasili Mitrokhin that claims Allende took money from the Soviets, had a KGB adviser, and was considered a “confidential contact,” though not an agent. Another question not addressed is whether the CIA was aware of this at the time.8

Story of a Death Foretold adds a practical human dimension to the Allende story and his failed ideology, but it offers little hope for his world view, only that it should have been allowed to fail.


Tales From the Special Forces Club, by Sean Rayment. (Collins, 2013) 309 pp., photos, no index.

The Special Forces Club (SFC) was established in 1945 by the last head of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Major General Sir Colin Gubbins, as a place for former SOE members—men and women—to reminisce about wartime experiences, most of which were still classified. Eligibility for membership was later extended to Britain’s Special Forces and intelligence services and those of her wartime allies. The pictures on the club’s walls commemorate WW II service members and include OSS veterans William Donovan, Bill Colby, and Sully de Fontaine.

Sean Rayment, a former British army officer and now journalist, had long wondered what motivated SOE officers. When he visited the SFC in 2011, he learned that a few SOE members were still alive, and he decided to seek an answer firsthand. Tales From the Special Forces Club tells the stories of 10 veterans whose service ranged from training in Britain to leading the resistance behind enemy lines to operations in the desert, in the jungle, in the air, and at sea.

Rayment interviewed 86-year-old Noreen Riols at the club. She had joined the SOE to satisfy a sense of adventure, though her duties weren’t specified until she was sworn in; they made her a secretary. It wasn’t long, however, before her talents for instruction showed through and she was assigned to Beaulieu, where she trained agents for deployment. Philby had served there before her—“everyone spoke of him as being very charming, pleasant and efficient.” (24)

Other chapters deal with Jedburgh team operations in France and Burma as told by Fred Bailey and John Sharp; Popski’s Private Army in Italy, where John Campbell served; and Leonard Ratcliff’s 71 missions flying SOE agents behind German lines in France. Rayment notes almost casually that in each case, those he interviewed returned to civilian life after the war, to very different and successful careers—meeting from time to time at the SFC.

For much of its early existence, the SFC was known only to its members. Rayment comments that “the club is as anonymous today as it was when it was opened… its address only known to a select few.” (11) But alas, the Internet age has caught up with the SFC; its address is available to all on the Web, and more information may be found on its Web page.

Tales from the Special Forces Club has some great stories and is a solid contribution to the Special Forces traditions.


A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior, by Mark A. Bradley. (Basic Books, 2014) 343 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

In his fine history of the OSS, former CIA analyst R. Harris Smith mentioned that “in 1948, FBI informant Elizabeth Bentley made the absurd charge that [Duncan] Lee was a Soviet spy who had passed OSS information to the Russians.”9 The FBI had investigated the charge, but no legal action resulted, and Lee denied the accusation under oath in a congressional hearing. He would maintain his innocence, supported by his family and his OSS superior William Donovan, for the rest of his life.

At first glance it is easy to understand why many believed him. A proud descendant of Robert E. Lee, Duncan Chaplin Lee was born in China, the son of missionary parents. After graduating from Yale, he won a Rhodes scholarship and studied jurisprudence at Oxford. After marrying his Scottish sweetheart and returning home, he joined the Wall Street firm of Donovan, Leisure, Newton and Lumbard in 1939. In spring 1942, with a favorable recommendation from Allen Dulles, Lee signed on with Donovan’s office of the coordinator of information in Washington. He served in OSS, mainly on Donovan’s executive staff, throughout the war, leaving as a lieutenant colonel. After the war, Lee worked in various law firms and continued to “portray himself as a casualty of Bentley’s mental instability” until his death in April 1988. (260)

The truth was otherwise. The FBI had known the truth even as Lee testified before Congress, but it could not use the Venona decrypts in court. The public learned of Lee’s treachery in 1995, when the Venona evidence was declassified. But still, questions remained. Was he a communist, and if so, when did he join the party? How was he recruited? Was he part of a network? Who were his handlers? What information did he furnish to the NKVD? And, perhaps most important, why had he done it?

In A Very Principled Boy, former CIA analyst and currently Department of Justice lawyer Mark Bradley answers the above and many other questions about Lee. His thorough scholarship is based on recently released OSS and FBI files, letters Lee and his wife wrote while at Yale and Oxford, materials supplied by Lee’s children, and interviews with family and others who knew him. Much of what Bradley found is revealed here for the first time. We learn, for example, that the FBI was warned in August 1940 that Lee and his wife, Ishbel, were active in the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), though no action was taken. Bradley also provides details of Lee’s recruitment and handling, which included the violation of nearly every rule of tradecraft, including intimate relations with female contacts. He also provides material on what information Lee supplied. Bradley notes that toward the end of the war, Lee became less cooperative when he thought he might have fallen under suspicion.

A Very Principled Boy explains Duncan Lee in the context of his time and closes the file on one of Donovan’s most trusted officers. It is a major contribution to counterintelligence literature, with lessons for all intelligence officers.

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Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy in the CIA, by John Rizzo. (Scribner, 2014) 336 pp., endnotes, photos, index.

It is unlikely that John Rizzo joined the CIA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) in 1976 intending someday to follow in Allen Dulles’s literary footsteps and write a memoir. While many others have done so, most have come from the clandestine services. A notable exception is Robert Gates, a career CIA analyst. The first CIA general counsel, Larry Houston, said he would leave his story to the historians. In breaking with precedent, Company Man benefits readers and historians alike with a new perspective on the CIA.

After graduating from Brown University in 1969, Rizzo earned a law degree from George Washington University—unwittingly following in Dulles’s academic footsteps—and after a brief encounter with private practice, joined the US Customs Service in 1972. Soon bored with its bureaucratic tedium, he sent a résumé to the CIA. Months later, in June 1976, he entered on duty, just before George H. W. Bush became director of central intelligence. Before retiring, Rizzo would serve 34 years under 10 other directors and during some of CIA’s most turbulent years.

What do lawyers do at CIA? Why are they even needed? Company Man answers these questions and at the same time conveys a personal image of Rizzo. While well known for his unusual, less than Ivy League dress code—some old-timers considered it a sartorial misdemeanor—Rizzo provides a forthright account of his career’s progress and along the way makes clear the contributions lawyers make. In a matter-of-fact writing style that shuns self-promotion, Rizzo describes one challenging episode after another that raised unprecedented legal issues.

An early assignment to help KGB defector Yuri Nosenko with some resettlement details elicited a discussion on his harsh treatment during a three-year confinement by the CIA. Nosenko added that “Your colleagues didn’t torture me. They don’t know what real torture is.” (59)

Then came matters in the aftermath of the Church Committee hearings (1975–76), followed by the Iran-Contra scandal, which gave Rizzo his first real visibility and legal excitement, or as he put it, “Lord help me for saying this, but the Iran-Contra experience was fun as hell for me.” (130) On the other hand, the Aldrich Ames case and then the problems associated with handling “dirty assets”—agents with less-than-priestly backgrounds, but with valuable knowledge—while stimulating, were no fun at all.

But the challenges posed by terrorism and events after 9/11 grew to dominate Rizzo’s career. He gives a detailed account of his role in the origins and implementation of the interrogation program. With his characteristic candor, Rizzo adds, “I was confident that I could squelch at least the more aggressive proposed techniques.” (186) He then explains why he didn’t and how, despite “demonstrable intelligence benefits the program was providing,” (233) his decision—together with the destruction of video recordings of interrogations—led to a congressional and media firestorm that eventually kept him from being confirmed as the CIA general counsel.

Throughout Company Man, Rizzo adds personal anecdotes—for example, his impeccable, Tom Wolfe-like dressing habits were well known; as he put it, “my usual causal attire [was] Ralph Lauren polo shirts in a rainbow coalition of colors.” (219)—and insights gained from his contacts with the directors and the many intriguing colleagues he supported. In one case that involved sharing classified data with Congress, he notes that DCI Porter Goss “didn’t trust the staffers not to leak.” (21) In another instance, Rizzo tells about “the most egregious and unforgettable leak I witnessed… that indisputably caused the death of a CIA source.” (148) A final example concerns the White House decision to declassify the Justice Department memos justifying the interrogation program and what happened when then-CIA director Panetta didn’t learn about it from his acting general counsel—Rizzo himself. Panetta’s colorful language expressing his opposition to the release is illuminating, as are the comments of DNI Blair.

Company Man is a major contribution to the intelligence literature, not only for the original story it tells, but even more for the way it is told. As Rizzo establishes the importance of the OGC in intelligence operations, it becomes clear why Rizzo acquired a reputation for competence and intellectual honesty.


My CIA: Memories of a Secret Career, by Christopher David Costanzo. (CreateSpace, Publishing, 2013) 414 pp., no index.

Christopher Costanzo retired in 1991, after 25 years in the CIA’s clandestine service. The first 412 pages of his memoir leave an impression of an agency entombed by neglect, whose senior leaders are counseled by sycophants and supported by a bureaucracy of dangerously incompetent, disgruntled careerists. Then on page 413, reflecting on today’s clandestine service, he adds, “I have every reason to hope that it is much better and more effective than it was in my day.”

Constanzo is a Harvard-educated former Marine and the son of a Foreign Service officer. He once applied to follow in his father’s footsteps, notwithstanding that he found the Foreign Service had become “blatantly self-satisfied and elitist.” It didn’t work out. His application to the CIA went more smoothly, and he describes his intelligence 101 training and his early assignments. From time to time he departs from the career chronology to comment on “poorly understood” (by the public) intelligence terms and ideas. The often muddled meaning of the term “agent” is one example. (28)

As he recounts his various assignments, Costanzo adds examples of the career guidance he received from more experienced professionals who set a tone for the book. For instance, “Don’t trust a word they tell you,” and “Get it in writing.” He suggests these realistic admonitions didn’t always make any difference with a bureaucracy that “was immune to outside scrutiny.” (61) He did find some he could trust and who helped his career, however.

Costanzo stresses that his memoir should be viewed as a working-level perspective. He justifies that approach with comments on his service as desk officer, agent handler, station chief and the general duties of station staff. Of equal concern is the unceasing conflict between family and career. He is also free with his views on administrative procedures such as promotion board guidance. And he concludes that the quality of entry-level operations officer candidates in the mid-1960s was declining. He admits “many of [his] old colleagues will react angrily” (178) to such observations. Many will also be upset by his persistent attack on Richard Helms, though less by his reactions to DCI Schlesinger, and by his grim assessment of some support services, the Office of Technical Service in particular.

The CIA is not the only recipient of his critical analysis; the State Department earns his close attention as well. In several cases he highlights the disruption caused by a power-hungry ambassador. (398–400) But in all his criticisms, Costanzo presents his specific reasons and avoids ad hominem whining.

My CIA is at once frustrating and curiously interesting. Readers will wonder why he stayed, but he never addresses the question directly. Perhaps he just wants to show what it took to survive in a profession to which he is still devoted and for which he still has hope.

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Intelligence Abroad

Re-energising Indian Intelligence, by Manoj Shrivastava. (New Delhi: Vij Books, 2013) 354 pp., end-of-chapter notes, bibliography, index.

According to Lt. Gen. Kamal Davar (Ret), former director general of the Indian Defense Intelligence Agency, the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008 led to the “streamlining of our intelligence set-ups.” (viii) His introductory remarks go on to argue the need for books by professionals that describe the current situation, and he sees Re-energising Indian Intelligence as a step toward that end.

The approach taken by author Shrivastava—an Indian army officer—is to review Indian intelligence from a historical perspective and then summarize India’s existing organizations at the national level. He then focuses on the performance of the various agencies and identifies the challenges exposed by the Mumbai attacks. These include questionable analysis, failure of coordination, turf battles, and database issues. He then devotes a chapter to the major intelligence agencies in the world, stressing their organization, functions, responsibilities, and oversight mechanisms.

Returning to Indian intelligence, Shrivastava describes areas that require the acquisition of new capabilities—cyberintelligence, and the impact of social networking are two examples. His final chapter recommends a series of organizational and operational changes that he suggests will achieve the necessary modernization. Prominent among these is a new overall authority, the National Intelligence Assessment and Coordination Center (NIACC) and improvements in the recently established National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC).

Re-energising Indian Intelligence concludes with seven appendices that cover basic topics: the intelligence cycle, definitions, more detail on the Indian services, and instances of “intelligence lapses.” (219) The appendix on intelligence successes includes a section titled “Operation SHAKTI,” the program that kept the Indian atomic bomb program secret. Its success was “a matter of great pride for India’s intelligence community.” (235) Unfortunately, the comments that follow say nothing about the operation itself and only summarize reactions in the United States.

Manoj Shrivastava presents a useful analysis of contemporary Indian intelligence organizations with sensible suggestions for meeting the demands of a rapidly changing international and technological environment.

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1. See Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (MJF Books, 2008), 3–9.

2. David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (Oxford University Press, 2009). See review by Matthew P. in Studies in Intelligence 53, no. 4 (December 2009): 63–64.

3. Miles Copeland, The Game Player: Confessions of CIA’s Original Political Operator (Aurum Press, 1989).

4. Alexander Rose, Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring (Bantam, 2006).

5. Ian Sayer and Douglas Botting, America’s Secret Army: The Untold Story of the Counter Intelligence Corps (London: Collins, 1989).

6. George Bancroft, History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent (Little Brown, 1874), Volume X, 7.

7. See Edwin C. Fishel, The Secret War for the Union (Houghton Mifflin, 1996), 624. For more detail on Edmonds, see Betty Fladeland, “Alias Franklin Thompson,” Michigan History 42.3 (1958): 435–462; see also “New Light on Sarah Emma Edmonds, alias Franklin Thompson,” Michigan History 48.4 (1963): 357–62.

8. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The KGB and the Third World: The Mitrokhin Archive II (Penguin, 2006), 69.

9. R. Harris Smith, OSS: The Secret History of America’s First Central Intelligence Agency, (University of California Press, 1972), 276–77.

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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this journal are those of the authors. Nothing in any of the articles should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of their factual statements and interpretations. Articles by non-US government employees are copyrighted.

Posted: Jul 10, 2014 10:20 AM
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2014 10:20 AM