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COLD WARRIOR by Tom Mangold


James Jesus Angleton: The CIA's Master Spy Hunter

by Tom Mangold

Pub Date: June 19th, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-66273-2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 Among the top men who kept the CIA's secrets during the height of the cold war was James Jesus Angleton, chief of counterintelligence. Whether the austere and obsessive operative (who died in 1987) did more harm than good is the central issue in this evenhanded but unsparing biography by senior BBC TV correspondent Mangold (coauthor, The Tunnels of Cu Chi, 1985). Drawing on interviews with Angleton's associates, friends, enemies, and widow plus unclassified archival material, Mangold offers an arresting portrait of a charismatic paranoid. A veteran of WW II's OSS, Angleton decided to make a career of intelligence and signed on with the CIA when it opened for business in 1947. Chosen by Allen Dulles in 1954 to become the agency's first counterspy, he tackled his new assignment with a missionary fervor that never flagged. Over the next two decades, this true believer pursued a single-minded agenda based on a series of interlocking assumptions holding, for example, that the Sino-Soviet split was a delusion, that monolithic Communism aimed at nothing less than world dominion, and that the Kremlin's moles abounded in Western capitals. Surrounding himself with kindred spirits, Angleton conducted unavailing witch hunts, betrayed loyal field agents, provoked allied intelligence services, rejected virtually all defectors as KGB plants, and otherwise hobbled crucial CIA campaigns against the USSR. Paradoxically, this ultrasuspicious man was completely gulled by Great Britain's Kim Philby and Anatoli Golitsyn, a low-level but like-minded refugee from the Soviet Union. After Angleton was eased out of the agency in Watergate's wake, his successors found a wealth of secret files that had never been incorporated in the organization's central registry. In retirement, the former spycatcher cultivated rare orchids, engaged in fly-fishing, kept a generally low profile--and his own counsel, effectively preserving the Angleton mystique. Damningly documented judgments on an intelligence agent who played at the patriot game. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)