INSIDE THE CIA by Ronald Kessler


Revealing the Secrets of the World's Most Powerful Spy Agency
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 Authorized history of the CIA, by Kessler (Escape from the CIA, 1991, etc.). In the context of Iran-contra, murky doings in Latin America, Israeli penetration of US intelligence, and the CIA's utter failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kessler would have us believe that the CIA has significantly changed since the Senate hearings of the 70's. ``Cooperating on a book that would undoubtedly contain criticism of the CIA and give away secrets required [of the CIA] a longer-term vision of where the public interest lies,'' claims Kessler. But one senses rather that the CIA has simply come to grips with the necessity for improved public relations via friendly writers. Kessler begins by lionizing recent director William Webster (who later gets a full chapter), and goes on to whitewash the agency. From time to time, a wrist gets slapped, but in no real sense is the reader placed ``Inside the CIA.'' Kessler does offer a clear presentation of the Company's various departments and what they do, but his failure to explore fully the implications and aftereffects of the CIA's actions creates a bland unreality in which Senator Patrick Leahy's being mistaken for a spook by a neighbor bulks as large as the toppling of Iran's elected government by Kermit Roosevelt. A number of embarrassments are dealt with, but always in such a way that they do not appear symptomatic of inherent attitudes. Also not dealt with: CIA inclination to tailor information to presidential taste (a key to the failure to predict Soviet collapse), and the ascension of competing US agencies. Lack of historical perspective and of a serious overarching view of the international intelligence community doom this cheery bureaucratic tale to mediocrity. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-73457-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1992


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