SUB ROSA: The CIA and the Uses of Intelligence by Peer de Silva

SUB ROSA: The CIA and the Uses of Intelligence

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Recent books on the CIA by ex-spies tend to fall into two broad categories: exposÉs by former agents, like Marchetti and Agee, or memoirs by high-level functionaries like Walters and Colby. De Silva is decidedly in the second group. His career follows a well-known path running from his wartime intelligence service--tied to the Manhattan Project--to early employment with the new CIA, serving as station chief in Vienna during the 1950s, followed by a stint as head spy in Seoul, and climaxing as station chief in Saigon from 1963 until 1965, when he was seriously injured in a bomb explosion at the U.S. Embassy. De Silva retired in 1973 after routine tours in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Canberra. Centering on counter-intelligence work, de Silva's experiences in Europe were apparently limited to following around KGB agents and courting defectors, along with running agents back and forth across the Austrian border. He peppers his tale with the requisite stories of Soviet boorishness and outraged impotence at standing by during the Hungarian Revolt of 1956. Unfortunately, he also includes some embarrassingly irrelevant personal items about his marital life, culinary experiences, and hotel preferences--as if CIA employment brought celebrity status along with it. His account of Vietnam reiterates the Agency view of the war: the Pentagon is to blame for turning it into a full-scale conflict, while the CIA was beginning to have success with its rural ""pacification"" counterinsurgency programs. Familiar fare, and served without style or wit.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1978
Publisher: Times Books