Tim Weiner, a reporter for The New York Times, has filed stories from inside the CIA and around the world for twenty years. He is a past winner of the Pulitzer Prize for covering national security. This is his third book.
Is the Central Intelligence Agency a bulwark of freedom against dangerous foes, or a malevolent conspiracy to spread American imperialism? A little of both, according to this absorbing study, but, the author concludes, it is mainly a reservoir of incompetence and delusions that serves no one's interests well. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Weiner musters extensive archival research and interviews with top-ranking insiders, including former CIA chiefs Richard Helms and Stansfield Turner, to present the agency's saga as an exercise in trying to change the world without bothering to understand it. Hypnotized by covert action and pressured by presidents, the CIA, he claims, wasted its resources fomenting coups, assassinations and insurgencies, rigging foreign elections and bribing political leaders, while its rare successes inspired fiascoes like the Bay of Pigs and the Iran-Contra affair. Meanwhile, Weiner contends, its proper function of gathering accurate intelligence languished. With its operations easily penetrated by enemy spies, the CIA was blind to events in adversarial countries like Russia, Cuba and Iraq and tragically wrong about the crucial developments under its purview, from the Iranian revolution and the fall of communism to the absence of Iraqi WMDs. Many of the misadventures Weiner covers, at times sketchily, are familiar, but his comprehensive survey brings out the persistent problems that plague the agency. The result is a credible and damning indictment of American intelligence policy. (Aug. 7) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Must reading for anyone interested in the CIA or American intelligence since World War II." --The Washington Post"Legacy of Ashes is the best book I've yet read on the CIA's covert actions." --Edward Jay Epstein, The Wall Street Journal"Legacy of Ashes should be must-reading for every presidential candidate--and every American who wants to understand why the nation repeatedly stumbles into one disaster abroad after another."--The Boston Globe "A timely and vital contribution . . . [that] glitters with relevance."--Los Angeles Times"This is by far the scariest book of the year."--The Christian Science Monitor