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A Spy For All Seasons: My Life in the CIA Paperback – August 13, 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clarridge, a New Hampshire-born dentist's son, joined the CIA in 1955 to fight Soviet and Chinese communism. His 33-year career-including stints as chief of the Latin American and European divisions, and head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, which he set up in 1986-ended with his forced retirement after the FBI and congressional committees investigated his role in what he dismissively calls "the Iran-contra nonsense." Indicted in 1991 on federal charges of lying to Congress and the Tower Commission, Clarridge received a presidential pardon from Bush a year later. In a brisk, businesslike memoir studded with disclosures about CIA covert actions and espionage around the world, Clarridge denies charges that he secretly anointed Oliver North as U.S. coordinator for contra funding and weapons supply. He also denies that he knew in advance a shipment of missiles to Iran was, in fact, weaponry rather than oil-drilling equipment, as North allegedly tricked him into believing. Clarridge reveals details of an almost-successful agency attempt to nab Palestinian terrorist Abul Abbas, who hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, killing a wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger. The CIA veteran staunchly defends Reagan's contra war against Nicaragua's "totalitarian" Sandinistas, an operation he created and supervised. And he reports that, after Abu Nidal terrorists killed 19 people in the Rome and Vienna airports in 1985, CIA operatives penetrated the Libya- and Lebanon-based group, sowing paranoid distrust that led Nidal to murder 330 of his own hard-core disciples. Coauthor Diehl is a frequent contributor to Playboy and has collaborated on six book.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When Clarridge retired under the shadow of the Iran-Contra affair, he was one of the most senior clandestine operations people in the CIA. Behind him lay the career this book recounts. Beginning in the 1950s, when the CIA had just completed its transition from being the OSS, it continued through the height of the cold war to finally witness the collapse of Communism. Frank about his own limitations and failings and equally proud of his achievements, Clarridge, with writer Diehl's able help, generally offers a commendably unglamorous insider account of the spy's life. It is, of course, hard to judge whether he is totally truthful about his role in supporting the contras, but he is definitely persuasive in arguing against creating a situation in which clandestine operations are impossible, as he believes is now the case. Good reading for students of espionage, both serious and casual. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Original ed. edition (August 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743245369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743245364
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Clarridge was nothing if not controversial. His long and storied career at the CIA is a fascinating read. He includes some of the more "mundane" aspects of the job, but manages to relate them in an interesting manner. What's great about this book is that Clarridge served in a variety of regions and came face-to-face with terrorism, so he offers some great perspective that is still relevant today. Later in his career, Clarridge was tied up in the Iran-Contra scandal and was eventually forced into retirement.

Despite the informative and interesting nature of his memoir, it is entirely self-serving. Now, of course, most memoirs are. But Clarridge comes off as defensive, hurt and looking to bully his critics. A number of passages read less like a memoir than a tirade from a bar stool.

Nevertheless, for anyone interested in espionage and intelligence, this book is a great read.
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Too bad all you Communists and Islamists! I admire Dewey and I love the book. I knew Clarridge over in Istanbul when my family lived there in 1968-1972. My father worked with him and Jaime Munson in the US Consulate. They greeted us when we arrived in Janurary 1968.

Both my family and Clarridge witnessed the attack on the sailors from the USS Enterprise in May 1968 when rioting students from the Istanbul Technical University attacked the sailors as they came ashore on the European side of the Bosphuros. Like Clarridge said, long before you ever heard about Abu Nidal, Mohammed Abul Abbass or Usama Bin Laden, we witnessed what would arrive on American shores 33 years later--Islamic terrorism.

My younger brother used to play with Dewey's son, Tariq, and when my parents had dinner parties, Mr. Clarridge would come over to our home on the outskirts of Istanbul. I spoke with my father and told him about the book. My father feels that Dewey embellished some particulars in the book, but he wouldnt specify exactly what was exaggerated. My mother hates Dewey and has called him ''the devil incarnate''. Such is the nature of a left of center liberal.

What Clarridge did with the Central American situation was his crowning achievement .

You might want to take note of Dewey's predictions and warnings at the end of the book which was published in 1999--Islamic terrorism is coming to the United States.

For those of you disloyal creeps that deride Dewey Clarridge--what have you done to protect the United States? Gone to a peace proest in the park or something? Please take note that since what Mr. Clarridge suggested has fallen out of favor, our security and economic situation has gotten worse.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books and most realistic books out there on what its like to be a CIA officer. The author speaks from an experience of 30 plus years in the CIA starting out as a junior case officer and retiring as a senior manager. The author spent his time in the agency during the Cold War but also had experience in the Middle East and fighting the emerging threat of terrorism. Some of his more significant accomplishments were establishing the counterterrorism center (CTC) and working to support the contras against the rise of communism in Central America. My favorite part of the book was the author's stories of his experiences--this guy is the real thing. The least interesting part of the book was the discussion about the investigations in the Iran-Contra scandal and the infighting within the CIA. Don't get me wrong, the author's account adds an important element to the history, but it was not as interesting as the rest of the book. If you are interested in the topic, this is an excellent book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written with a lot of insider info regarding CIA OP's.
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The author is a self-promoting, conceited right-wing Reagan apologist with a contempt for anyone who doesn't embrace Eastern Establishment conservative principles. Among the alarming things he wrote is this sentence regarding William Webster: "All of his training as a lawyer and as a judge was that you didn't do illegal things. He never could accept that this is EXACTLY what the CIA does when it operates abroad. We break the laws of other countries. It's how we collect information. It's why we're in business."

I do not defend Willliam Webster in any way. But for Clarridge to state that breaking laws is "why we're in business" is an outrageous statement, and indicative of his views about the impunity with which the CIA often acts.

It's a detailed and well-researched book, but the author's shameless repetition of his so-important role in Agency operations and his obvious contempt for certain groups of Americans is a huge turn-off.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good read. The author could have condensed it down a bit. Some chapters just repeated previous information. But overall it was an enjoyable read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This former CIA agent has an easy story telling way of writing. The information he provides is easy to follow and fascinating. I had a hard time putting this down because I wanted to know what was going to happen. His information adds a different view of news stories I remember being big stories in the past.
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Dewey Clarridge - the man, the myth, the legend.
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