Next book

A DROP OF TREASON

PHILIP AGEE AND HIS EXPOSURE OF THE CIA

An insightful and evenhanded portrait.

One of America’s “most hated” spies receives a lively, thoughtful biography.

Stevenson, senior fellow for U.S. defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, has searched the archives and interviewed everyone willing to talk about Philip Agee (1935-2008). The son of a wealthy Catholic businessman, he seemed a chip off the old block, attending Catholic school and Notre Dame, where he graduated cum laude in philosophy. In 1956, during his senior year, he declined an offer from a CIA recruiter but joined after three months of law school. Agee served in Ecuador, Uruguay, and Mexico, carrying out America’s policy of fighting the influence of Castro and communism by supporting authoritarian movements and their violent methods. No evidence exists that he objected at the time, and his 1968 resignation letter cites only personal reasons. He remained in Mexico for several years, seemingly at loose ends. In 1971, he traveled to Cuba, ostensibly for research, and then to Paris, where his statements denouncing the CIA caught the agency’s attention. His 1975 bestseller, Inside the Company, was a generally accurate portrayal of CIA operations and bad behavior accompanied by the names of more than 400 CIA agents. Although it remains an article of faith among CIA supporters that agents died as a result, Stevenson expresses doubts—but there is no doubt that it ruined careers and hampered missions. The author devotes two-thirds of the book to the remainder of Agee’s life as a professional CIA critic, constantly fending off enraged officials who proclaimed that his defection was a facade of “venality, lust, drunkenness, or emotional breakdown.” The 1970s were not kind to the CIA, but Congressional anger at its dirty tricks caused more damage than insider revelations. By the 1980s, America’s conservative turn had relieved the pressure, and 9/11 reenergized the agency. “Once 9/11 effectively reempowered the agency, and it went nefarious again with renditions, black sites, and torture,” he writes, “[Agee’s] mission again became relevant to upholding true American principles.”

An insightful and evenhanded portrait.

Pub Date: May 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-226-35668-6

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Next book

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Close Quickview