A SPY FOR ALL SEASONS

MY LIFE IN THE CIA

The engrossing, matter-of-fact memoir of a career CIA officer whose involvement with Nicaragua's Contras brought him to grief at the hands of a special prosecutor. A well-connected New Englander, Clarridge joined the CIA in 1955. Dispatched to Nepal, the author (then 27) was obliged to learn his offbeat trade on the job, while running a one-man listening post in Katmandu. Subsequently assigned to less remote but still exotic venues like Istanbul, New Delhi, and Rome (where he served as chief of station), Clarridge became a cold warrior par excellence. Adept at cultivating and recruiting sources of useful information, he achieved enough to be recalled to Washington in 1981 as head of the agency's Latin American Division. Inter alia, the author recounts what the CIA did and did not do in arming Nicaragua's Contras. In his straightforward narrative (officially vetted by erstwhile colleagues still at the CIA), Clarridge also details what he knew of the role played by Oliver North in the Contra campaign and the CIA's running battles with a Congress dominated by Democrats who, he says, had an eye for the main political chance. Moving on to the European Division during the mid-1980s, the author was later tapped to create a Counterterrorism Center. Eased out of the agency in 1988 in the wake of the Iran- Contra investigations, he was indicted by Lawrence Walsh. While prepared to fight these charges (essentially, of deceiving the Senate), the author accepted a pretrial pardon in 1992. In reviewing the factors that ended his life as a player in the great game, Clarridge makes a persuasive case for a strong US intelligence capability in an increasingly dangerous world and settles a host of old scores (e.g., with Jacques Chirac, the DEA, and the Tower Commission). A professional operative's apologia pro vita CIA.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-80068-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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