UNDERCOVER: Memoirs of an American Secret Agent by E. Howard Hunt

UNDERCOVER: Memoirs of an American Secret Agent

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A classic example of chutzpa with Hunt throwing himself on the mercy of the court as the father of four motherless children (never, though, does he address himself to the ""mystery"" surrounding his wife's death nor to the equally enticing speculations that Mrs. Hunt was actually the operative in the family) -- but where are those kids? You'll remember the recent Rolling Stone interview in which two of them (one, the youngest son, has had extensive psychiatric treatment during the last several years) claimed they'd been locked out of their home ever since family friend William Buckley whisked them off to a rented house. A distorting book by a spy who got left out in the cold along with all his Tinkertoys -- walkie-talkies that never seem to work, his ""pocket litter,"" electronic devices, wigs, itching powder, stink bombs. A more inept undercover agent would be hard to hire (didn't the ""Big Man"" ever suspect how untalented his plumbers down in the White House basement really were?). Foiled and foiled again, but it's never Hunt's fault you understand (he's conveniently forgotten about that unmailed check to his country club he left behind at Watergate which early on also led to his identification) -- the gang that couldn't bug straight booking a banquet room at Watergate as a cover but McCord forgot to disconnect the burglar alarm so that night's break-in was no-go; hiring an expert lockpicker who wasn't and had to fly back to Miami for more tools; infiltrating an anti-war rally to keep the peaceniks from desecrating (as Hunt feared) J. Edgar Hoover's catafalque. And after the arrest. . . the realization all too slowly dawning that the ""principals"" intended to remain ""aloof from their responsibilities"" to the conspirators. How, one wonders, did Hunt keep his CIA job for more than twenty years? If, as it now seems, the Watergate story will never be fully disclosed, we may have to piece it together from just such self-serving insiders' accounts -- the only conceivable reason for reading Hunt's book.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1974
Publisher: Putnam