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A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments Hardcover – July 1, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

H.P. Albarelli Jr. is the author of A TERRIBLE MISTAKE: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments; a novel, THE HEAP; and numerous articles that have been translated in to over 15 languages. He is a graduate of Antioch Law School, and has traveled widely throughout Asia and Africa. His feature-length documentary on vanished young women in New England in currently in production, as is a feature documentary on the LSD experiment conducted at Pont St. Esprit, France in 1951. His novel ZOBOP REDUX will be released next year.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Trine Day; 1 edition (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977795373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977795376
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey S. Kaye on November 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
H.P. Albarelli, Jr. has written a fully detailed, compelling account of the murder of CIA-linked 1950s Army biochemist Frank Olson. The somewhat surprising death of an otherwise little-known Midwestern scientist would become for contemporary historians, journalists, and researchers -- years after the event -- a crucial nexus providing a gathering point for the multitudinous strands connecting a welter of secretive Cold War intelligence and military programs.

The Olson case burst upon the public's consciousness in the mid-1970s, along with other revelations at the time concerning CIA and military domestic spying and medical experimentation upon unwitting victims, thanks in part to a landmark expose by then-New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh. Pursued by Olson's family, attorneys, government commissions, newspaper reporters, and even some CIA agents, the truth behind Olson's death after a hundred-foot fall from a Manhattan hotel window on November 28, 1953, has been obscured over the years by a combination of myth, government misdirection, amateurish or hack "research," and, crucially, a lack of access to essential documentation. Now, after almost a decade of research, writer and researcher Albarelli has produced his magnum opus on Olson's death, and it has been well worth the wait.

"A Terrible Mistake" is part history book, part biography, part memoir, and part mystery tale. In order to understand the story of Frank Olson's life and death, and the cover-up surrounding that death, Mr.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow! This book is amazing, stunning, shocking and frightening. I was anticipating the story and solution to Dr. Frank Olson's mystery, but there is so much more - - and with exacting details from incredible sources. It is disgusting that our government would employ men like those that killed Frank Olson. But it is also obviously stupefying when we Americans accept the CIA's 'explanations' such as that 'unsavory characters' must be dealt with intelligence matters. Albarelli's exensive documentation of the connections between Olson's killers and the JFK assassination is certainly worthy of a full-blown federal investigation. But is also becomes clear why that will not happen due to the equally strange FBI connections to those same men.

It seems ironic, or maybe a classic example of poetic justice, that Frank Olson died partially due to abhorrent government experiments. But the revelation by Albarelli of the experiments overseas that directly provoked Olson's murder, and in particular in Pont St. Espirit, France, should spark international outrage.

A Terrible Mistake is the writing of a master investigator and should be read by each American. Albarelli's book helps us grasp fully, and realize our questions about our government are legitimate, with respect to why terrible mistakes have been and continue to be made in the name of freedom and democracy.

R. Pacific
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a world where talk radio and cable television news programs have polarized into a voice for either the political right or the political left and where newspaper journalism is in decline as the whole industry has been loosing readership, H. P. Albarelli has come forward with a milestone of investigative journalism in his recent book A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments. The day when you could follow and rely on your favorite newspaper and columnist to uncover and report on the events of the day and to follow the big news stories are vanishing. It's hard to find anyone who digs as deep and spends the time to cover a story as well and in such depth as this author has.
America learned about the abuse of power that the Intelligence agencies had previously enjoyed when the Church Committee, or as it is formally known as the United States Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with respect to Intelligence Activities published its reports. To this day, intelligence agencies are held to a strict code forbidding collection and retention of information on American citizens by oversight reviews as a result of these investigations and the ensuing public outcry. The Rockefeller Commission was a Presidential Commission on CIA activities in the Untied States and more specifically the CIA mind control program MKULTRA, also held in the mid 1970's. It's because of these commission reports that the Olson family and eventually the public learned of a mysterious death as a result of LSD dosing by the CIA. Imagine the CIA was giving themselves and their friends LSD as they looked for ways to fight the communists and the cold war with the very same thing they took for fun.
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Format: Hardcover
I wholehearedly echo the effusive praise that previous reviewers have voiced for this book. It is, beyond any doubt, the best-researched and most well written book I have encountered about the history of the secret programs that took place during the cold war(and I have read fairly extensively on the subject.)

Albarelli's work is impeccable -- every source is documented completely and indexed very well, and his writing is engaging and compelling. Although the subject matter is very dark, the author's sharp wit and always-appropriate humor help to counterbalance the shock and horror the book exposes, making it a joy to read.

As a reader who was already somewhat familiar with the Olson case, I was absolutely glued to the text, and found it difficult to put it down before finishing every last note and reading through all the appendices.

Albarelli manages to take a convoluted case, with many names and much information, and make it easy to follow; this is no small feat! He spent nearly a decade researching and writing this book, and that is evident in the level of precision and care with which the material is presented.

Words don't suffice to express how deeply impressed I am by this work -- it is truly astounding.
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