By Hayden Peake and Nicholas Dujmovic
Troy, a career CIA officer, teacher and lecturer, and pioneering historian of
the CIA’s origins, died on 30 July in Bethesda, Maryland.
Tom grew up and was educated in Massachusetts, graduating from Holy Cross
College in Worcester (class of 1941). He joined the Army and was sent to
Princeton University to study Arabic. During the war he served in the Middle
East monitoring communications. He returned to college after the war, taking
advantage of the GI Bill to earn a masters degree in political philosophy at
Fordham University. After trying his luck as a newscaster, freelance writer,
and college teacher, he joined CIA in1951 as an analyst in the Near East
section of the Office of Current Intelligence (OCI) in the Directorate of
Intelligence. He soon married Elizabeth Cashman; eventually they had a family
of eight children, six daughters and two sons.
expertise was widely acknowledged, but he was famous for resenting the editing
that analysts suffer, and he grew increasingly unhappy with OCI management. The
feeling was mutual—Tom wasn’t quite fired, but he was encouraged to seek a job
elsewhere in the Agency. He found his niche in the Office of Training (later
the Office of Training and Education), where from the outset he was recognized
as an outstanding, even visionary, teacher. Tom helped create the area training
program, including the courses on the Middle East and North Africa regions.
During the mid-1960s, he developed the Vietnam Orientation Course, an effort
the chief of the Far East Division of the Directorate of Plans, William Colby,
In 1969, while still teaching, he became interested in the Agency’s
history. The director of training, a former OSS officer, approved an unofficial
project for Tom and worked out an arrangement that gave him time to conduct
research—including money to travel—and write a history of the origins of OSS
under William Donovan and its transformation into CIA. On this, Tom labored for
five and a half years. His work came to the attention of senior Agency leaders,
who supported and praised it, even though some in his office disapproved of it
as a diversion from its training mission. The result, Donovan and the CIA: A
History of the Establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency, was
initially published internally in two spiral-bound volumes classified SECRET.
Most of the classified material dealt with references to third-party material
and personnel, which, once deleted, made possible an unclassified paperback
edition in 1979.
After Tom retired in January 1982, he joined University Publications of
America as editor of an intelligence book series. One of the first volumes he
published was a hardbound edition of Donovan and the CIA. For cost
reasons, the first printing did not have a dust jacket. But the demand was so
great that one was subsequently printed and furnished on request and with new
copies. The work remains the best source on the topic, a benchmark for
scholarship and documentation. It was given an award by the National
Intelligence Study Center in 1981 as the best non-fiction book of the year.
completed another historical study of the CIA’s creation, Wild Bill and Intrepid:
Donovan, Stephenson and the Origins of the CIA, which drew heavily on
Tom’s interviews with Sir William Stephenson. This volume was published by Yale
University Press in 1996.
In his retirement, Tom started a bimonthly newsletter—the Foreign
Intelligence Literary Scene. He originally thought to call the newsletter
the Foreign Intelligence Bulletin (FIB), but he had trouble attracting
authors to a journal with such an acronym and changed it before the first issue
appeared. It dealt with books, personalities and events in the Intelligence
Community. There was no competition and it proved a success for the next 10
years. In the early 1990s, it was published by Ray Cline’s National
Intelligence Study Center until the Internet made it obsolete.
to write articles and book reviews for Studies. His work has also
appeared in the International Journal of Intelligence and
Counterintelligence and in the journal Intelligence and National
In 2000, a
former Agency officer published a book suggesting that William Donovan’s role
in the creation of the CIA was significantly less important than Tom’s work suggested.
Tom attended a talk the author gave at the National Archives and raised
questions that clearly annoyed the author because he couldn’t answer them.
Tom’s approach in questioning the author was perfectly in character: he was
smiling and friendly, yet persistent. He could make his point without giving
In the hours before his death, Tom told his family
that he couldn’t wait to resume work on his next book, a biography of Sir
William Wiseman, the MI-6 head of station in America during World War I. Tom
had finished 15 chapters.
All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the author. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.