The Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of today's CIA) was conceived, organized, and directed by Major General William J. (""Wild Bill"") Donovan (1833-1959). The grandson of Irish immigrants in Buffalo, Donovan left a prospering law career to become the most decorated soldier of World War I. Unsuccessful in his campaigns for state office, he had better luck with federal appointments, working for Coolidge as Assistant Attorney General, serving in the Thirties as FDR's eyes and ears abroad. It was these overseas missions that alerted him to the importance of accurate intelligence, and FDR welcomed his suggestion and his stewardship of a single agency to collect information, organize counterpropaganda, and train ""special operators."" The high point of Corey Ford's competent biography is the wartime account of the OSS in action, which is nicely balanced between details on Donovan's activities, operational and strategic developments, and spy stories of deviousness and derring-do.