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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (August 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743245369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743245364
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

If I could give it zero stars I would.
SISKEL
Nevertheless, for anyone interested in espionage and intelligence, this book is a great read.
Bradley Nelson
The stories are cogent, detailed and fun to read.
William J. Romanos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Nelson VINE VOICE on January 21, 2009
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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Idol Hanz on December 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By ironman96 VINE VOICE on September 25, 2009
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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By Zachary on March 24, 2014
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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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By SISKEL on March 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
This sick man worked for the CIA for a number of years and was involved with the overturning of the Chilean government, specifically Chavez who was clearly for democracy and the poor of the country. The United States in its infinite wisdom helped install a corrupt government to protect their measly 15% of oil imports from Chile. This book clearly does not tell the whole story about what happened in this jackasses life and career. He is a piece of garbage who has clearly lied on many occasions during interviews and in his pathetic book. Either he lied or is a moron, either way, i will pass on this book, it is a waste of trees, the only thing I would use this book for is toilet paper. Most likely he belongs in prison for what he has done. If I could give it zero stars I would.
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13 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Dewey was a Division Chief when I was a junior case officer, and I continue to admire him. His pocket handkerchiefs were amazing-you could parachute from a plane with one in an emergency. Dewey's bottom line is clear: he concludes that "the Clandestine Services (sic) is finished as a really effective intelligence service." He has other worthwhile insights, ranging from the inadequacy of the information reaching CIA analysts from open sources (e.g. Nepal), to the "wog factor" dominating CIA analytical assessments (e.g. Pakistan will never attack India), to the sterile and politically-safe approaches to intelligence by the leadership of NSA and the some of the military intelligence services. My bottom line on Dewey is also clear: he was typical of the case officer talent pool, he tried very hard, and the system still failed. He was a good person in a very bad system.
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