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Inside the CIA: Revealing the Secrets of the World's Most Powerful Spy Agency Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kessler ( Escape from the CIA ), who is the first journalist to be accorded the full cooperation of the CIA, here reveals more about the agency's structure, policies and key personnel than any previous writer has. He defines the missions of the agency's five components--the director and the directorates of operations, science and technology, intelligence, and administration. Kessler explores such diverse subjects as the agency's employment policies (the CIA, he maintains, prefers aggressive, manipulative recruits willing to lie and to break the laws of foreign countries), the director's daily presidential briefing, the CIA's counter-narcotics efforts, the physical plant itself ("The CIA compound is indeed a spooky place") and the agency's struggle to create a viable public-relations policy. As to the agency's mandate, given the diminution of the Soviet threat, Kessler reports that the CIA is intensifying its effort to track nuclear proliferation, international drug trafficking and terrorism. A largely objective, evenhanded, highly informative survey.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Multiple prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Kessler, whose books on the FBI (he's written a number of critiques of federal institutions, e.g., The FBI, Audio Reviews, LJ 9/1/96) toppled its director, most recently wrote Inside Congress (Audio Reviews, LJ 4/15/98), an uneven effort that bogged down in salacious detail and anti-Gingrich partisanship. Inside the C.I.A. was published in 1992 and is a much better offering because, generally, Kessler respects the agency he is studying. He describes its history and then divides his chapters by following the agency's organizational chart, concentrating on the divisions one by one. The listener hoping for detail on various highly publicized cases such as Iran-contra or the Cuban Missile Crisis will be generally disappointed. The reader, Chris Lane, has a young, somewhat high, well-articulated voice. In a book such as this, of course, the reader has no chance at histrionics, but Lane carries himself well, merging into the background like an effective newscaster on college radio. This audiobook should be well received in the current-events and history collections of public and academic libraries.?Don Wismer, Cary Memorial Lib., Wayne, ME
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reissue edition (February 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067173458X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671734589
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ronald Kessler is the New York Times bestselling author of 20 non-fiction books about the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA.

Kessler began his career as a journalist in 1964 on the Worcester Telegram, followed by three years as an investigative reporter and editorial writer with the Boston Herald. In 1968, he joined the Wall Street Journal as a reporter in the New York bureau. He became an investigative reporter with the Washington Post in 1970 and continued in that position until 1985.

Kessler's latest book is "The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents."

Kessler has won eighteen journalism awards, including two George Polk awards--for national reporting and for community service. Kessler has also won the American Political Science Association's Public Affairs Reporting Award, the Associated Press' Sevellon Brown Memorial Award, and Washingtonian magazine's Washingtonian of the Year award. Franklin Pierce University awarded him the Marlin Fitzwater Medallion for excellence as a prolific author, journalist, and communicator. He is listed in Who's Who in America.

Ron Kessler lives with his wife Pamela Kessler in the Washington, D.C. area. Also an author and former Washington Post reporter, Pam Kessler wrote "Undercover Washington: Where Famous Spies Lived, Worked and Loved." His daughter Rachel Kessler, a public relations executive, and son Greg Kessler, an artist, live in New York.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#69 in Books > History
#69 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

Very good and well-written book.
Ed Stevens
Commentary in such books should elaborate on the research presented, and address the author's authentic view; not a repetitive rambling on information.
Edward Hollinger
Kessler's novel is extremely comprehensive, and encompasses the most important points of CIA history and function.
Masonic@ibm.net

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 19, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The simple fact is that this book is outdated. Published in 1992, it is obvious that the absolute last world event dealt with in the author's research was the Gulf War of 1991. Even though it says it's been updated in 1994, there is definitely no mention of the Clinton years or the 1993 WTC bombing. In fact, in an ominous line, the authors writes to the effect that there has never been a major intel failure since the 80s (regardless of what side you believe, 9/11 would certainly get a full chapter under this category). It's time to update this book, or it will be totally obsolete very soon.

The entire structure of the CIA is outdated. The book was written in the days when there was a DCI, and the major directorates were Ops, Science & Technology, Intelligence and Admin. Now, there is a DNI/DDNI team as head of national intel, under whom is the DCIA (not DCI anymore). The directorates are different as well: Ops is now called the National Clandestine Service; S&T is the same, Intelligence is called Analysis, and Admin is called Support. Not to mention that the whole thing about visitors to Langley is laughably archaic in post-9/11 America.

Though some reviewers mention that Kessler doesn't "reveal any secrets," I found the book quite full of inside info. There are tons of examples of insider issues, operations that went well or badly, and myth debunks. What did you expect, that even if there is a captured UFO, the book would tell you? I didn't see TOPSECRET//NOFORN//SCI anywhere on the cover.

As a history, the book is wonderful. Unfortunately, it's the closest thing to a current tell-all of the Agency, which is sad. Even the Agency itself lists it at the top of their recommended reading for applicants.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on March 31, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Kessler's Inside the CIA has more to say about the organization of the Agency than actual spycraft. As such it is hardly an interesting read - in fact, I would venture so far to say that it is downright dull. Kessler laboriously explains the table of organization of the CIA - what the 5 directorates are and what they do (in the abstract) with very little by way of specifics. The few interviews Kessler conducted in his preparation for this book were with former Directors - very little from the "men in the field." Most of the information Kessler presents can easily be found elsewhere, in a much abbreviated form, and at less cost than the book. If you are interested in a book about what the function of the CIA is and how it is organized to carry out its mission, this is the book for you. If you are interested in something about spycraft or are searching for stories about individual CIA operations, look elsewhere. In spite of its catchy title, you will be disappointed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you have ever had personal contact with anyone from the Agency, you know that this is the book the CIA tends to recommend for those seeking to understand the real world of espionage. This is not intended to be a spy thriller by any means or a pastiche of anecdotal accounts from folks in the field. However, colorful, humorous, sometimes disappointing, and often intriguing stories are interspersed throughout the narrative which keep the reading interesting. "Inside the CIA" touches on the Agency's history and development but focuses on Cold War and modern challenges, the personalities behind the decisions, past obstacles, successes and failures. Under DCI William Webster, Kessler was granted significant cooperation and access, both from the upper echelons and from the staff at large. His account does not seek to make friends within the Agency nor does it reek of an anti-Agency agenda. This is a fairly level headed account and solid reference for anyone seeking to build a basic understanding of the intelligence community.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James J. Lippard on November 22, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This 1992 book by Kessler is quite similar to his more recent book on the FBI, but without the quantity or quality of interesting inside stories. Not surprisingly, despite having excellent access to the CIA, there are fewer details. Again, however, he comes across as remarkably fair-minded--quite critical of failings of the agency, and not afraid to point out flaws and foibles of its leadership--but also sympathetic, refuting some inaccurate charges that have been made. The book has a very amusing and horrible typo in the title of Chapter 24: it is given as "X-Rated Chowder" in the table of contents, at the beginning of the chapter, and at the top of every page in the chapter. In fact, it was supposed to be (as you learn when you read the chapter) "X-Rayed Chowder." A good introduction to the CIA, but it's now over a decade out-of-date.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Clay Greenberg on December 30, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a fantastic book that carefully steers away from the over-zealous and tired conspiracy theory that one might expect to read in any book about the CIA. For those interested in American political process, this book simply tells you how the CIA is structured and how it works to carry out its legal mission. In an unbiased way, it also highlights some of the successes and failures of the CIA since its inception.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward Hollinger on January 22, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ronald Kessler's INSIDE THE CIA is among one of the worst books I've ever read, and the worst detailing the Central Intelligence Agency.

The material presented by Kessler is hardly informative, and never thought-provoking. Rather, the book is a cluttered, rambunctious compilation of CIA facts merged with Kessler's own commentary which, at times, entirely invalidates his initial claims.

Kessler spends one chapter depicting a CIA director as having been detrimental to the agency at critical times, and justly explains why. However, at the end of the same chapter, he spontaneously introduces his own commentary which contradicts his previous portrayl of the director. For three pages, he actually has the audacity to violate his role as an author and instead become a self-propelled menace to his own writing. Commentary in such books should elaborate on the research presented, and address the author's authentic view; not a repetitive rambling on information.

Furthermore, INSIDE THE CIA is poorly written. Kessler provides facts in short burts of words, sometimes in the most illiterate fashion. At times, Kessler repeats the same facts and commentary, sometimes within the same paragraph on the same page. Therfor, the book becomes irritating to read.

While the book pretends to illustrate the internal workings of each directorate in the CIA, Kessler spends the shortest of chapters on the Directorate of Science Technology, and provides absolutely noththing. The extent to which he describes this directorate is common sense; such as the utilization of satellites; spy devices, etc. He never describes either of those in detail.

Kessler's book succeeds with one function: presenting facts or views on the CIA that are already well known, or just common sense... There are plenty of books on the CIA, and I suggest you buy one that's more informative by an author that knows how to write.
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