Intelligence in Public Literature

Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf
Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake

American Spies: Modern Surveillance, Why You Should Care, and What To Do About It,by Jennifer Stisa Granick

Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance, and the Struggle to Reform NSA, by Timothy H. Edgar

The Art of War, Peter Harris, ed.; foreword,by Gen. David H. Petraeus, US Army, Ret.)

The CIA and the Politics of US Intelligence Reform, by Brent Durbin

The National Security Enterprise: Navigating the Labyrinth, by Roger Z. George and Harvey Rishikof (eds.)

The Arab World and Western Intelligence: Analyzing the Middle East, 1956–1981,by Dina Rezk

The CASSIA Spy Ring in World War II Austria: A History of the OSS’s Maier-Messner Group, by C. Turner

Churchill’s Spy Files: MI5’s Top-Secret Wartime Reports, by Nigel West

Enemies Within: Communists, The Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain, by Richard Davenport-Hines and A Spy Named ORPHAN: The Enigma of Donald Maclean by Roland Philipps

A Most Enigmatic War: R. V. Jones and the Genesis of British Scientific Intelligence 1939–1945, by James Goodchild

Neither Peace Nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America, by Patrick Iber

Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History, by Josh Dean


American Spies: Modern Surveillance, Why You Should Care, and What To Do About It, by Jennifer Stisa Granick. (Cambridge University Press, 2017) 339, footnotes, bibliography, index.

Jennifer Granick is director of Civil Liberties at Stanford Law School. She is also an outspoken, impassioned opponent of what she terms modern surveillance: “America can survive terrorism,” she insists, “but American democracy cannot survive modern surveillance.” (5) In American Spies, she pleads her case.

While her antipathy to mass surveillance didn’t begin with the Snowden disclosures, they clearly influenced her views on the topic and she invokes them frequently while adding her own perspectives. For example, to heighten the intuitive understanding of the risks involved, Granick extends the definition of the terms “surveillance” and “spying” as used by NSA to mean “government collection of private and personal information: address books, buddy lists, photos, phone numbers, web history, geolocation data, and more,” without specifying the “more,” adding, “I also call this spying.” (28) She critiques the existing laws and their application as too permissive, anticipating that if something is not done, individual liberty and privacy will suffer.

In support of this position, Granick foresees, inter alia, the perils of “big data” collection, the risks to Americans associated with intercepting foreign communications, the necessity to protect the privacy of foreigners, and the “nothing to hide” argument. In support of the latter, she devotes a chapter to the history of surveillance abuses and the potential continuance if mass surveillance is not abolished—or at least constrained. Since “something closer to 100 percent of Americans have committed crimes other than mere driving infractions” without being caught, (128) mass surveillance as she conceives its application would place citizens at risk of exposure by those controlling the data. For those who have not committed a crime and who assume the US government would “never engage in espionage or blackmail” against them, (147) Granick gives examples that suggest otherwise, some dating back to 1964, but she does not report that remedial actions were taken to prevent these tactics from being employed again. As to the present, she argues the potential dangers to political dissidents, whistleblowers, and journalists.

American Spies is much more than a recitation of anecdotal examples of the dangers of mass surveillance. Granick examines the associated legal issues at length, especially those arising after 9/11, analyzing their perceived weaknesses and suggesting corrective actions. While her approach may appear alarmist to some while attempting to demonstrate that government cannot be trusted and that things will get worse if action is not taken, her suggestions for the future, whether or not one accepts her anticipatory views, are not unreasonable. Toward this end, she advocates for improved oversight, accountability, and changes in the current laws. It should be noted that, since American Spies was published, new laws have been passed that may put some of her concerns to rest.

For those in the Intelligence Community, the lack of trust expressed in American Spies may be hard to understand and accept. But the book is important because it is an articulate expression of how many see modern intelligence and thus should be kept in mind by the practitioners, policymakers, and congressional leaders as they work to ensure the common goal of national security.

Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance, and the Struggle to Reform NSA, by Timothy H. Edgar. (Brookings Institution Press, 2017) 276, endnotes, index.

As an ACLU lawyer, Timothy Edgar argued against increased surveillance during the war on terror. In 2006, he joined the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where for seven years he reviewed classified programs “to ensure they had a firm basis in law and included safeguards to protect privacy and civil liberties.” When he found the Bush administration surveillance policies questionable, he worked to put them on a stronger legal footing. Despite the agreement among his colleagues he achieved at the working level, his “efforts to start a meaningful public dialogue about privacy” were stymied by top officials who wanted to keep the programs involved secret. (2) In 2009, he was detailed to the National Security Staff as its “first ever director of privacy and civil liberties,” where he also dealt with  privacy and security issues. (55–56) Once again his efforts were frustrated, and in 2013 he resigned and accepted a position at Brown University. (71) A few days later the Snowden leaks became public.

Beyond Snowden expresses Edgar’s inconsistent views on what Snowden did. He is supportive of NSA’s global mission and of those who carry it out, while at the same time acknowledging the disclosures were damaging to US national security. Yet, he is also delighted with the transparency the disclosures provided and the reforms they provoked. And although he declines to characterize Snowden’s behavior as treason or whistleblowing, he signed an ACLU-sponsored letter to the president requesting Snowden be pardoned in which he claimed he was both. As to what to do with Snowden, he recommends “an unreviewable act of presidential clemency.” (214)

Edgar is also critical of government’s attempts to deal with the Snowden disclosures concerning mass surveillance, which he admits was “not illegal.” (215) But they do confirm, in his view, excessive secrecy and raise serious privacy and civil liberties issues, which he discusses at length. In the end, though he is encouraged by the increased transparency and ensuing reforms, he argues these are insufficient.

The final portion of the book is devoted to Edgar’s views on what remains to be done—hence the title. Moving beyond Snowden’s polarizing actions, he offers a 14-point agenda for surveillance reform that summarizes his opinions on what Congress, the courts, and the Intelligence Community should do to set things right.

Overall, Beyond Snowden is a measured treatment of the issues raised. It sets out the positions of all sides fairly and is worth serious attention.


The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018) 307, bibliography, appendices, chronology, index. Translated, edited and introduction written by Peter Harris; foreword written by Gen. David H. Petraeus (US Army, Ret.).

Editor and translator Peter Harris is a senior fellow in the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington. His new translation of The Art of War is based on three Chinese texts. The first is the standard modern Chinese version published in 1962. (33) The second, published in 1990, draws on the first but contains new material written on bamboo strips excavated from a tomb in China. The third is taken from A Concordance to the Militarists edited by D. C. Lau (Hong Kong, 1992).

In the foreword, General Petraeus emphasizes the continued contemporary relevance of the 13 chapters in The Art of War with examples from his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his introduction, Harris discusses what little is known about Sun Tzu. He explains the reasons some scholars doubt Sun Tzu ever existed, the variants of his name found in the literature, the speculation that if he existed he may not have written the book himself, and the difficulties in determining when the book was actually written.

This edition actually contains two reproductions of The Art of War. The first version is Harris’s 50-page translation that is presented without editorial comment. The second version includes the same basic text plus extracts from Chinese specialists that Harris refers to as “traditional commentators.” For example, chapter 13, “Using Spies,” is three pages long in the first version and nearly nine in the second.

As to the differences in meaning—which are subjective—consider the first version sentence that reads, “When a spying matter is not yet underway and people hear about it, both the spy concerned and those he has told are to be put to death.” The comment about that item reads, “When a matter regarding spying has been planned but not yet put into effect and suddenly people who have heard about it come and report it, they and the spy concerned are to be killed, partly to stop any leaking out and partly to shut them up for good.” (290) These extracts provide alternate interpretations of various portions of the text. Consequently the second version is nearly 200 pages longer. Details on each of the commentators are included in the appendix.

The additional commentary plus the historical remarks on Sun Tzu and the book’s origins are unique to this new edition. It makes The Art of War worth reading again.

The CIA and the Politics of US Intelligence Reform, by Brent Durbin. (Cambridge University Press, 2017) 330, endnotes, index.

Brent Durbin is an associate professor of government at Smith College. He has worked on Capitol Hill, studied at Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford, and the University of California (Berkeley), where he earned his Ph.D. Thus, his analyses of intelligence reform are unencumbered by direct experience and reflect an academic’s view on this prickly topic.

That reform may be necessary even now is indicated by the assertion that “many Americans and their leaders remain skeptical that the intelligence community is doing its job well.” (2) But before considering the implications of that statement, Durbin describes his conceptual approach to intelligence reform and then reviews the successes and failures that occurred during the Cold War and in the post-9/11period.

Durbin’s approach employs what he terms “the pathology of intelligence reform,” using pathology in the sense that “the fundamental political dynamics governing intelligence reform undermine the overall health and effectiveness of the system.” (3) Without indicating why this should always be the case, he argues that within “the difficult environment for adapting US intelligence to global realities, we find the two dynamics that combine in the pathology of intelligence reform: the unique challenges of intelligence oversight and the overcharged politics of crisis reform.” (17) He discusses how these factors complicate reform, citing as one example the failed attempts “to adapt the CIA and other intelligence agencies to the post-Cold War world.” Although he finds this claim “largely uncontested,” those who lived through the period may offer other interpretations. (22) Likewise, his observation that in order to achieve a positive result, “we must first change the political environment in which reforms take place,” (25) is largely unsupported and some readers may recall circumstances where this condition did not apply. Most will agree, however, that mistakes were made prior to 9/11 and Durbin considers whether reforms could have been anticipated and implemented, and if so who should have taken the action and if not, why?

Using CIA as a point of reference, Durbin next takes an in-depth look at the history of intelligence reform, stressing the roles of the bureaucracies, the Executive Branch and the Congress during the administrations preceding the end of end Cold War and the actions they took after it ended. Many of the changes were event-driven while others followed from routine congressional oversight, as the result of legislation, as a consequence of congressional investigations or some combination of the forces. Thus, while the creation of the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency are noted in passing, the focus of the book is on more operational matters. These include the organizational, personnel, and regulatory changes due to the Dulles-Correa report in the late 1940s; the perceived failures associated with the Korean War; various covert action operations, Watergate, and the congressional investigations of the mid 1970s; the end of the Cold War and the congressional reaction to Iran-Contra; and 9/11 and post-9/11 terror related activities.

The final chapter of The CIA and the Politics of US Intelligence Reform includes three common-sense findings that sum up the political power relationships associated with reform in the Intelligence Community. These are followed by the eye-rolling claim that “the study has shown how the politics of US intelligence policy are systematically biased against . . . the protection of civil liberties—except when intelligence abuses have been uncovered through leaks. A system in which illegal activities can only be uncovered and corrected by breaking the law and exposing state secrets is dangerous for its citizens.” (271–2) The alternative view, that intelligence policy is biased in favor protecting civil liberties, is not considered.

Dr. Durbin has produced a provocative study of intelligence reform worth serious, though cautious, contemplation.

The National Security Enterprise: Navigating the Labyrinth, by Roger Z. George and Harvey Rishikof (eds.). (Georgetown University Press, 2017), second edition, 420, end of chapter notes, index.

Roger George is a 30-year veteran of CIA where, among other assignments, he was the National Intelligence Officer for Europe. He also served tours in the Defense and State Departments. After retirement, he taught at the National War College and at Georgetown University. He is currently professor of national security practice at Occidental College. Harvey Rishikof is a lawyer who served in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI, and the federal judiciary. He is also the former dean of faculty and professor of law and national security at the National War College. They are both co-editors and contributors to this, the second and expanded (53 new pages) edition of The National Security Enterprise.

The principal differences include a new chapter on the Department of Treasury, a bit player before 9/11, but now its little known Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is a major participant. There are also a number of new authors and content updated since the first edition in 2011. The chapters discuss the roles of intelligence among the major agencies and departments that contribute to national foreign and security policy, with the surprising exception that, although both NSA and DIA are mentioned, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research is not.

Organizational and operational culture is a central theme and strength of the book. The authors compare the various organizational cultures and how they impact individuals, at all operational levels and across organizational boundaries, to influence policy. To give a more complete cultural picture of the already complicated Intelligence Community functions, there is a chapter on Congress, its responsibilities, and how it interacts with the intelligence enterprise. For related but less direct reasons, there is also a chapter on the Supreme Court and its role. Chapters on lobbyists, think tanks, and the media round out the coverage.

The chapter on CIA contains a comment worth further attention. Author George notes that after its creation by the National Security Act of 1947, the agency’s role changed quickly to accommodate missions not specified in the Act, as for example, “collection of intelligence” or espionage. (207) But there was no need to specify that function since the Act did state that CIA would absorb the personnel and missions of Central Intelligence Group (CIG), which had already been assigned the espionage mission performed by OSS’s successor, the Strategic Services Unit (SSU) and which was operating stations in Europe and elsewhere.

With the exceptions noted, The National Security Enterprise sketches a big picture of the Intelligence Community or enterprise. The same knowledge can be acquired on the job, but reading about it here could lead to more inspired job performance and prove career enhancing. A worthwhile contribution.


The Arab World and Western Intelligence: Analyzing the Middle East, 1956–1981, by Dina Rezk. (Edinburgh University Press, 2017) 361, end of chapter notes, bibliography, photos, index.

Dina Rezk earned her doctorate at Cambridge University under the supervision of reknowned British intelligence historian Christopher Andrew. The Arab World and Western Intelligence is a study of major political, military, and diplomatic events in the region—from the 1956 Suez crisis to Yom Kippur War. Rezk reviewed the academic literature pertaining to the events and actions taken by various nations during this period, and she concludes that in many cases the conclusions are incorrect. Thus, she asks, “Have Western experts in some fundamental way failed to understand the dynamics, leaders, and culture of the Middle East?” (1) Her qualified, affirmative answer is explained, she suggests, because “much of the literature ignores a vital component . . . the ‘missing dimension’ of intelligence analysis on the Middle East.” (4) Yes, that’s right, analysis—not espionage or covert action, though these factors are not ignored.

Rezk supports her position by comparing recently released British and American intelligence analyses and assessments produced during the period with the views historians have expressed on the same events. She clarifies the data acquired from these sources by interviewing participants, showing that intelligence analysts more often than not got it right—when historians and, in some cases, Arabist scholars, did not. For example, with regard to Egyptian president Gamal Nasser’s behavior following his nationalization of the Suez Canal, she writes, “Intelligence analysis performed better than scholars have conventionally thought. In fact, at times, it is striking how far-sighted contemporary analysis proved to be with the benefit of retrospect.” (326) She is careful, however, not to comment on the results of analyses or the decisions made by policymakers; that realm is beyond the scope of her study.

Rezk presents the foundations for her conclusions in eight case studies of major events that occurred during the period. Each case is evaluated by some combination of the following factors that affect Middle East analysts: mindset, the role of culture and politics, Arab motivation, religion, honor, the influence of stereotypes, and “otherness,” which historians define as the state of being “other” or different.

The 1967 Six Day War illustrates her approach. She examines the factors that made the conflict an intelligence success in the short term—CIA told the president when the war would start—noting, “intelligence assessments of the major players were both important and accurate.” (192) But, she adds, analysts’ advice to consider the aftermath went unheeded, and Israel abruptly annexed territory—to the surprise of the West.

The Yom Kippur War case study is an example in which British and American analysts agreed that, for political reasons, Sadat would start a war he knew he could win. Then they underestimated his capabilities to do so, and were surprised in the event. Rezk assesses analysts’ evaluation of the motivating factors.

The Arab World and Western Intelligence demonstrates forcefully the contributions of intelligence analysts to Middle East policies during the decades considered and argues persuasively that historians should not neglect this this dimension in the future, as documents become available. (An article reprinted in this issue from the Studies archive supports Rezk’s point. See David Robarge, “Getting it Right: CIA Analysis of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War,” Studies in Intelligence 49, No. 1 (March 2005) (page 23.)

The CASSIA Spy Ring in World War II Austria: A History of the OSS’s Maier-Messner Group, by C. Turner. (McFarland & Co., 2017) 232, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

One of the few references to the CASSIA ring by name is found on page 178 of Barry Rubin’s 1989 book, Istanbul Intrigues: A True-Life Casablanca (McGraw Hill) about OSS operations in Turkey. Rubin mentions one of its leaders, Franz Josef Messner, a Viennese businessman, and one of his compatriots, a Viennese priest whom he does not identify. In his book, Piercing the Reich (Viking, 1979), Joseph Persico also mentions Messner; identifies the priest as Heinrich Maier; adds another principal member, Barbara Issakides, a Viennese concert pianist; and discusses the intelligence they provided to Allen Dulles in Bern. In The CASSIA Spy Ring, author C. Turner, a retired government foreign affairs specialist, tells the story of the ring’s origins, operations, its key players, and its demise.

It was Maier who started the ring, writes Turner. First, he recruited his onetime parishioner, the businessman Messner, who had contacts throughout Europe and could collect information from them. Gradually others were added to meet operational needs. Helene Sokal, a communist and Nazi hater, and Issakides, the pianist, served as couriers. It was Issakides who conveyed oral messages to contacts in Switzerland that led to Allen Dulles. Gradually, this group of amateurs became a productive source for OSS.

Turner describes the CASSIA reporting on Peenemünde—the V-weapons facility—as well as its contributions on the state of German manufacturing and bomb damage assessment, among other tasks.

The Gestapo was not unaware of CASSIA and eventually penetrated the ring’s operations in Turkey. By then, according to Turner, CASSIA had become “OSS’s most effective spy ring in Austria.” (15) Turner explains how it happened, noting the many clues that all was not well were either overlooked or ignored.

When Dulles learned the ring had been infiltrated and betrayed, he tasked Fritz Molder—who would later become his son-in-law—with finding those who survived and giving them protection. Molder enlisted the help of a former classmate Harald Frederiksen, an American medical student who, despite imprisonment by the Nazis and later the Soviets, survived the war and returned to America.

Father Maier and Franz Messner were not so fortunate. Maier was hanged; Messner died in Mauthausen. Both the CASSIA couriers, however, survived. Issakides returned to Vienna and married. Sokal settled in East Germany and worked for the Stasi. Turner adds post-war details on many of the other CASSIA members.

The CASSIA Spy Ring fills a gap in OSS history. It is well documented and should be of interest to all those concerned with the OSS in WWII.

Churchill’s Spy Files: MI5’s Top-Secret Wartime Reports, by Nigel West. (The History Press, 2018) 464, endnotes, appendices, index.

For the first half of World War II, MI5 kept its counterintelligence and counterespionage operations secret. Not even the prime minister was informed. His well-known interest in such matters was offset by an equally well-known tendency for being indiscrete. MI6, on the other hand, didn’t share this view and presented Bletchley Park decrypts to the prime minister daily. In Churchill’s Spy Files, intelligence historian Nigel West tells how and why MI5 changed its policy and in 1943 began sending the prime minister monthly summary reports on its double-agent operations, prepared for his eyes only—not even his closest advisors were informed. Ironically, Soviet intelligence did have access since they were edited by Anthony Blunt, one of the now infamous Cambridge spies. (15) The reports have now been released by the British National Archives, and West presents all of them in Churchill’s Spy Files.

Typically, MI5’s director-general or the minister responsible for MI5, presented the report to the prime minister in person and remained while it was read to deal with any questions. Setting a precedent with the first report, the prime minister asked for further information on an agent named Wurmann, a German defector. West treats this case in Chapter 27. (404ff) The ninth report, dated 7 March 1944, disclosed a leak concerning the upcoming invasion, and Churchill in this case “demanded more information” which was supplied promptly. (228)

In general, the reports did not identify active agents by name; codenames were used and some— GARBO, MUTT & JEFF, TRICYCLE, and ZIGZAG—will be familiar to those acquainted with the Double-Cross operation. Little has been reported on others, for example, FREEK, PUPET, BRONX and HARLEGUIN, FIDO, and METEOR.

In all cases, West adds explanatory background material to aid reader understanding. For example, he notes that MI5’s ability to run and monitor the double agents was highly dependent on decryptions of German hand ciphers labeled “ISOS.” To emphasize this point, he cites MI5 officer Guy Liddell, who reported that MI5 could claim to have captured only three agents “single-handedly.” (431)

West’s commentary also describes the often contentious relationship between MI5 and MI6, as well as the support arrangements with the interrogation centers at Camp 020 and in post-war Germany. He demonstrates that, by war’s end, a successful model for counterintelligence operations had been established—albeit one highly dependent on the ISOS data. Churchill’s Spy Files is a unique and valuable contribution to WWII espionage history and the literature of intelligence.

Enemies Within: Communists, The Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain, by Richard Davenport-Hines. (William Collins, 2018) 642, endnotes, photos, index.

A Spy Named ORPHAN: The Enigma of Donald Maclean, by Roland Philipps. (W. W. Norton, 2018) 440, endnotes, photos, index.

Like faithful garden perennials, the Cambridge spies find their way into the intelligence literature with dogged regularity. Typically, authors justify treating these familiar subjects by citing recently released archival material or a new interpretation of previously flawed works. A Spy Named ORPHAN follows the former approach, while Enemies Within is a prime example of the latter.

After retiring from a career in publishing with Hodder & Stoughton and Macmillan, author Roland Philipps learned of new material about Donald Maclean released by the British National Archives. His interest was spurred by several unique relationships. First, his grandfathers were linked to Maclean, one directly, the other indirectly. Roger Makens, his maternal grandfather, who had served with Maclean at the British embassy in Washington and later at the Foreign Office, was the last government officer to speak with him before he defected. Second, Wogan Philipps, was a lifelong communist whose commitment to the cause helped his grandson understand Maclean’s motivation. Third, additional insights into the Maclean story were obtained from his friend Alan Maclean (Donald’s brother) and for whom Philipps’s mother had once worked in publishing. Finally, the archives at Cambridge and Oxford revealed diaries and letters between Maclean and many of his closest friends.

The result is a biography of Donald Maclean that repeats the details of his recruitment and handling by the Soviet intelligence service, while illuminating other areas of his story—particularly the detrimental effect that the mental stress of his espionage had on his personal life and career. In the late 1940s while serving in Cairo, Maclean himself recognized he was in difficulty. Before he had some sort of alcohol-induced mental breakdown, he wrote his Soviet masters asking to be allowed to go “work in Russia,” adding that his American wife, Melinda, was “perfectly prepared to go.” For reasons the author—and Maclean’s subsequent London handler, Yuri Modin—can only guess at, the appeal was ignored. (239–40)

Philipps’s account of Maclean’s views on communism, his outspoken anti-American sentiments—even when serving in Washington—and his occasional drunken claims that he was a British Hiss, are well documented. Seriously flawed, however, are the details of the Volkov incident in Istanbul in 1945 that could have exposed Maclean, Philby, and possibly the rest of the Cambridge Five. Likewise, the description of how American and British intelligence services learned of Soviet wartime penetration of their countries is inaccurate; for example, Philipps’s account and the Venona decrypts that led to Maclean’s exposure are muddled. Further, the statement is incorrect concerning the GRU mole, Igor Gouzenko, that “the Washington Embassy was the forwarding office for the traffic between Ottawa and London” (174): the channel used for those events was through MI6 in New York. Thus, Maclean could not have learned about those details the way Philipps suggests.

A Spy Named ORPHAN concludes with an account of Maclean’s life in the Soviet Union, where he learned Russian, wrote a book on British foreign policy, and worked for the Institute of World Economics and International Relations. Although Philipps paints him as devoted to his work and—for a time—to his family after they joined him, by his death in 1983, his wife had returned to the United States and his children had gone to live in England. While he apparently retained his not uncritical communist beliefs, at his request, his ashes were buried where he was born, in England.

Enemies Within also considers Donald Maclean’s espionage as well as the careers of his four Cambridge colleagues that the author erroneously calls “Philby’s ring of five.” (513) British historian Richard Davenport-Hines is not new to the subject of British espionage. In Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Wartime Journals (I. B. Tauris, 2012), he edited Trevor-Roper’s accounts of his service in the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), kept in defiance of service regulations and discovered after his death. The following year, in An English Affair (HarperCollins, 2013), he told the story of aviation minister John Profumo, his mistress Christine Keeler, and her lover, GRU Captain Yevgeny Ivanov, in an affair that brought down the Macmillan government.

In Enemies Within, Davenport-Hines advances a revisionist interpretation of the Cambridge Five, challenging other authors and historians who have written about them, and the conventional wisdom about the collective impact they had on British society. As he views the matter, the “significance of [the Five] and the actions of the counter-espionage officers pitted against them, make sense only when they are seen in a continuum” with the other Soviet agents operating at the same time. Enemies Within is only incidentally a study of “individual character.” It is rather, by design, “primarily a study of institutional character.” (xxiii)

A dominant sub-theme in Enemies Within is that it “hinders clear thinking if the significance of the Cambridge spies is presented, as they wished it to be, in Marxist terms. I argue that the Cambridge spies did their greatest harm to Britain not during their clandestine espionage in 1934–1951, but in the insidious propaganda victories of British government departments after 1951.” (xxiv)

Davenport-Hines asserts that “the Burgess and Maclean defection” led to Brexit. (xxv) While no further attention will be given to the latter statement, the former deserves some attention: according to Davenport-Hines, these “insidious propaganda victories” had to do with “the entrenched assumptions about upper-class corruption and Establishment cover-ups that began with the disappearance of Burgess and Maclean in 1951, intensified by Philby’s defection in 1963, and became unassailable after Blunt’s public shaming in 1979.” He argues that the Cambridge spies justified their espionage activities in the language of class-struggle and their “propagandistic explanations were magnified and distorted by journalists who wanted to profit from angry headlines.” (545)

In reaching these conclusions, Davenport-Hines reviews the principal British (and some American) spy cases since World War I and the careers of those involved. When he turns to accounts by British authors, he attacks the authors by name for their errors and judgments, and for focusing excessively on their subjects’ sexual preferences. He ignores the fact that most of these accounts were written long before archival material was available.

In the end, Davenport-Hines supports the work of the intelligence services and lays blame for what he deems a distorted view of British espionage on “the Establishment”—never more specific that that—for protecting itself by covering up its responsibility and placing blame elsewhere. As a contribution to the literature of intelligence, Enemies Within offers nothing new about the cases presented. As a study of “institutional character,” it is unpersuasive.

A Most Enigmatic War: R. V. Jones and the Genesis of British Scientific Intelligence, 1939–1945, by James Goodchild. (Helion & Company, 2017) 658, footnotes, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.

In the second volume of his WWII memoirs, Winston Churchill told how he learned it was possible to defeat a new navigation technique that made it possible for the Germans to bomb England whether or not there was moonlight. “With anxious mind,” he wrote in The Gathering Storm (Houghton Mifflin, 1948), he summoned the deputy director of intelligence research at the Air Ministry to a cabinet meeting in Downing Street to explain how it could be done. Twenty-eight year old R.V. Jones convinced the prime minister that the technique would work and was granted permission and resources to test his theories in what came to be called the Battle of the Beams. (In his own memoir published some 38 years later, R. V. Jones gave his version of the story, adding that “Churchill’s subsequent description of the meeting . . . was not quite correct.”[1])

In A Most Enigmatic War, the first comprehensive biography of Jones, British historian James Goodchild mentions the meeting with Churchill and notes, “Churchill’s account of the Battle of the Beams is highly praising of Jones and his work in countering the German bombing raids. This is of little surprise, for Jones assisted Churchill in drafting ‘The Wizard War’ chapter,” (103) an anecdote that typifies the tone Goodchild adopts toward his famous subject.

From the outset and throughout the book, Goodchild takes aim at Jones and his most famous work, Most Secret War. For example, he writes, “Perhaps because of Jones’s air of factual certainty and often self-confessed arrogance within Most Secret War, no dedicated history of scientific intelligence followed. Nor has there been a biography of Jones.” (xxiv) As to his reputation, Goodchild is unequivocal: “The obvious reason Jones has a larger reputation than his lifetime career should allow . . . was [for Jones] not the scientific intelligence organization he headed that was ‘a vital cog in the defence machine,’ but he himself.” (xviii)

Goodchild is not unfair to Jones’s book or career. He acknowledges accolades from Oxford historians A.J.P. Taylor and Michael Howard, as well as criticism from fellow scientist Solly Zuckerman and author Christie Campbell, who concluded after reviewing Jones’s work on the wartime “V-weapons” campaign, that Jones “was not as indispensable as he thought he was.” (576) And he carefully points out that “this book, while critiquing Most Secret War, is not entirely critical of Jones and his work. In many instances, Jones’s contributory war effort was exemplary, and credit is emphasized where due.” (xxix)

Goodfellow discusses Jones’s wartime assignment to MI6, his participation on various defense intelligence his committees; his work with Bletchley Park and the photographic interpreters at Medmenham (sometimes controversial); and his role in the use of the Oslo Report, including his eventual identification of the initially anonymous source. The Oslo Report, writes Goodchild, acquired through espionage channels, “was one of the greatest sources of intelligence on German scientific and technological capability during the Second World War.”  (81)

A Most Enigmatic War also covers Jones’s post-war career, including his brief return to government; his scientific contributions while a professor at the University of Aberdeen; the worldwide recognition he received, which Goodfellow judges was often excessive; and the lack of suitable honors from his government that Jones found difficult to understand. There is a brief comment on the intelligence medal CIA created in his name, of which he was the first recipient. (573)

R.V. Jones made a major contribution to the creation of scientific intelligence as a field of endeavor. And despite Goodchild’s critical assessment, A Most Enigmatic War makes this clear while acknowledging Jones’s Most Secret War remains a great read.

Neither Peace Nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America, by Patrick Iber. (Harvard University Press, 2015) 327, endnotes, photos, index.

After World War II, the Soviet Union established front organizations like the World Peace Council (WPC) that sponsored intellectuals to spread the word about peace and equality under communism, according to the party line. The United States soon countered with the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), though the government links via the CIA were officially obscured, thus freeing members to participate without the taint of being labeled government propagandists. The resulting battle came to be called the Cultural Cold War, whereby the United States advocated freedom through the arts and the Soviet Union promoted peace through communism.

These topics are popular with ivory-tower historians some of whom attack the United States for attempting, secretly and immorally, to influence other governments to support its own anti-communists policies. Examples include the work Oxford University honors graduate Frances Stoner Saunders, author of a wonderfully suggestive title, Who Paid The Piper? The CIA and the Congress of Cultural Freedom (Granta Books, 2000) and Sarah Harris’s The CIA and the Congress of Cultural Freedom in the Early Cold War: The Limits of Making Common Cause (Routledge, 2018)—but neither author mentions the extensive WPC and CCF efforts in Latin America that, for the CCF, began in 1954. University of Texas history professor, Patrick Iber, addresses that gap with his book Neither Peace Nor Freedom.

Iber views the cultural cold war in Latin America as different in several respects from the North Atlantic version, as far as the United States was concerned. First, after the Cuban revolution in 1959, there were “three international players: the Soviet Union, the United States, and Cuba. (10) Second, US efforts in the region were more difficult because of its overwhelming economic power and its covert action operations. Furthermore, the Latin American states were conflicted by CIA anti-communist programs that supported newspapers, artists, and writers who also admired Cuba for standing up to America.

The efforts of the CCF in cultural Cold War in Latin America failed to produce social democracy in the region. Iber labels its efforts toward this goal as “farce and tragedy, not in sequence but simultaneously” (15) and he examines in great detail the complex reasons for this, among them the hypocrisy of the CCF that advocated “the freedom of the individual artist or writer to produce as he or she pleased” while at the same time “the US government was interfering in the production of thought and culture.” (109)

Neither Peace Nor Freedom is not comfortable bedtime reading (or daytime reading, for that matter); it is, however, a thoroughly documented analysis of the CCF and the Soviet Union attempts to influence their proxies amid the political turmoil of the times. It is also a balanced account, dismissing, for example, the “black legend: that [the CCF] was an accessory of US power and part of the CIA’s strategy to ensure capitalist hegemony around the globe.” (240)

Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History, by Josh Dean. (Dutton, 2017) 431, bibliography, photos, index.

The story of how a sunken Soviet, diesel-powered submarine—K-129, carrying nuclear missiles—was found at the bottom of the Pacific and partially recovered in 1974 is not new. The 1977 book The Jennifer Project[2] the basics right with the exception of the title: Jennifer was the codename selected for the security portion of the operation. In 2010, naval expert Norman Polmar and documentary film producer Michael White used the correct project name in their book, Project AZORIAN: The CIA and the Raising of the K-129 (Naval Institute Press, 2010), that provided much more technical detail and was concerned primarily with the recovery of the submarine.[3]

The Taking of K-129 revisits the operation, adding new personnel as well as organizational, and administrative detail. The book does not, however, confirm the assertions in the subtitle. These were no doubt due to an overzealous editor—Howard Hughes didn’t steal anything, and AZORIAN was one of many daring CIA operations.

Typical of the new personnel detail, journalist Josh Dean adds biographical material on the key players. For example, the role of John Parangosky, the CIA project manager, team leader, and one of the original 50 CIA Trail Blazers, is not confined to AZORIAN. Dean mentions his WWII service, his decision to join the CIA, and his pioneering work on the U-2 and OXCART programs. He does the same with the principal Navy contributors, and the civilians involved.

Dean also includes information on Global Marine, which built the ship, the Glomar Explorer, that contained the barge and claws constructed by Lockheed Corporation. These would raise the K-129, using cables manufactured by the Hughes Corporation, which would also provide the cover story for AZORIAN. Known for his underwater exploration interests, Hughes agreed to the public story that his firm would “hire” Global Marine to conduct seabed mining. Dean describes the complicated arrangements Parangosky undertook to coordinate and implement the operation.

While covering the circumstances surrounding the location, identification, details of the partially successful raising of K-129, and the roles of the players involved, Dean discusses the complex security arrangements that were implemented to keep the public—and consequently the Soviets—from learning what was going on.

In the end, it was a story in the press that revealed AZORIAN. Dean explains how this happened and discusses for the first time the complex legal and tax complications that resulted. For his own reasons, Dean does not include endnotes to document the many details and quotations in the book. He does note they are provided on his website, but they are totally inadequate for those seeking specifics. The Taking of K-129 is the most complete account of the AZORIAN project to date. It is well told and adds much clarity to this now famous operation.

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Hayden Peake has served in the CIA's Directorates of Operations and Science and technology. He has been compiling and writing reviews for the "Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf" since December 2002.

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[1] R. V. Jones, Most Secret War: British Scientific Intelligence, 1939–1945 (Hamish Hamilton, 1978), 100.

[2] Clyde W. Burleson, The Jennifer Project (Prentice Hall, 1977).

[3] CIA Chief Historian David Robarge reviewed the Polmar book and movie in Studies, see “Glomar Explorer in Book and Film, Studies 56, No. 1 (March 2012) at

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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 16, 2018 03:14 PM
Last Updated: Jul 16, 2018 03:14 PM