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America's Strategic Blunders


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About the Author

Willard C. Matthias began his career in intelligence during World War II deciphering "ultra" codes for the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department General Staff. He joined the CIA's Office of the National Estimates when it opened in 1950 at the start of the Korean War and rose to become a member of the Board of National Estimates in 1961. He retired in 1973 not long after Richard Helms resigned as CIA Director rather than cooperate in President Nixon's scheme to have the CIA help cover up the Watergate break-in.


"A direct participant in some of the key intelligence disputes of the age, Willard Matthias provides us with both an inside account and a comparison with newly revealed Russian documents. This important work may open our eyes anew."

-John Prados, Author of Presidents' Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations from World War II Through the Persian Gulf

"This book takes the reader into the inner councils of U.S. Cold War strategic planning and enables one to second-guess the best and the brightest from Truman to Reagan. With its wealth of heretofore top-secret National Intelligence Estimates, it is to the Cold War what the Pentagon Papers were to the war in Vietnam."

-Charles D. Ameringer, Author of U.S. Foreign Intelligence: The Secret Side of American History

"This book, particularly when read in conjunction with the newly released CIA documents, should be very useful to serious students of the Cold War and of American national security policy."

-R. A. Strong, CHOICE

"The descriptions of major problems or crises and the misuse of analysis are concise and well written. The accuracy of analysis is assessed against later Soviet behavior (or that of others), long-run developments, and newly available evidence from Soviet bloc files. This makes a stimulating book, good reading for specialists in intelligence, national security, or the recent history of American foreign policy."

-Patrick M. Morgan, Perspectives on Political Science

"The book comes alive when he draws on his personal experiences to explain splits within the intelligence community, to describe the intelligence processes, and to provide telling details. Matthias is an acute observer of how intelligence was put together and sheds light on a number of key estimates, not only on the USSR but also on Vietnam and other countries."

-Robert Jervis, Political Science Quarterly

"America's Strategic Blunders is a hard-hitting defense of CIA intelligence analysis from 1936 to 1973 and a critique of the failure of policymakers from 1973 to 1991 to maintain a system of national intelligence that provided what was needed, if not always what was welcome. The author served for many years as a senior intelligence estimator and knows what he is talking about. His thoughtful analysis provides an important complement for understanding declassified records on the role of intelligence in policy-making in the Cold War, with valuable lessons for the future as well."

-Raymond L. Garthoff, Brookings Institution

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