Intelligence in Public Media

The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton
Reviewed by David S. Robarge

Readers who pick up The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton by Jefferson Morley hoping finally to have a comprehensive and objective treatment of the Agency’s shadowy and controversial chief of counterintelligence will be sorely disappointed. What they will find instead is an erratically organized account of most of the key events in Angleton’s life along with an agglomeration of often badly sourced suppositions, inferences, allegations, and innuendos frequently cast in hyperbolic or categorical language. The Ghost displays the most prominent shortcomings of journalistic history: reportage substitutes for cohesive narrative, with vignettes and atmospherics stitched together with insufficient discernment among sources. One of Morley’s more dubious ones—an anonymous blog post with no citations, from which he pulls an outlandish quote—has inadvertently provided an insight into what his ulterior motive in writing The Ghost appears to be: “This is not about who James Angleton was so much as what he had to be” [emphasis added]. In pursuit of a story he seems to have already written in his mind, Morley manipulates historical facts, engages in long leaps of logic, and avoids inconvenient contradictory evidence and interpretations to produce yet another superficial caricature of a deeply complicated personality.

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Posted: Dec 22, 2017 12:05 PM
Last Updated: Dec 22, 2017 12:05 PM