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Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 Paperback – July 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Woodward's books on Watergate, the Supreme Court, and John Belushi were not so controversial as Veil. His deathbed visit to William Casey, former CIA head, has been disputed by Casey's wife. What Woodward knew about Casey's Iran-contra role was apparently withheld from Congress. All this smoke has drawn attention from the fire. Woodward's tale of attempted murders, payoffs to foreign leaders, covert contra aid, covert aid to Britain in the Falklands War, and anti-terrorist squads is formidable. He presents Casey's CIA as a dangerously illegal loose cannon on the deck of U.S. foreign policy. Richard B. Finnegan, Stonehill Coll., North Easton, Mass.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time."
-- Bob Schieffer,CBS News Face the Nation

"Bob Woodward, the master chronicler of Washington's deepest secrets, has produced an investigative record of the CIA's turbulent years under the late William Casey....Veil plows more new ground than a dozen tractors in Iowa."
-- U.S. News & World Report

"Veil lays bare, in a way that no reportage has done before, the power struggle between contending factions -- both inside and outside the CIA -- for control over the nation's foreign intelligence apparatus...."
-- The Washington Times

"To read Veil is to be astonished at the access Woodward achieved....The reader is invited to understand Casey. The author dared open himself to Casey's charm, to Casey's rationale...."
-- New York Daily News

"Fifteen years after he unraveled Watergate as little more than a policebeat reporter, Woodward has lost none of his edge as one of the finest journalistic investigators of our time....Woodward has succeeded brilliantly in cracking state secrets...."
-- Los Angeles Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743274032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743274036
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for 44 years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for the Post's coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, and later for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored 17 national nonfiction bestsellers, 12 of which have been #1 national bestsellers.

Photos, a Q&A, and additional materials are available at Woodward's website,

His most recent book, The Last of the President's Men, is being published by Simon & Schuster on October 13, 2015.

In 2004, Bob Schieffer of CBS News said, "Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time."

In a lengthy 2008 book review, Jill Abramson, the managing editor of The New York Times, said that Woodward's four books on President Bush "may be the best record we will ever get of the events they cover . . . . They stand as the fullest story yet of the Bush presidency and the war that is likely to be its most important legacy."

Woodward was born March 26, 1943 in Illinois. He graduated from Yale University in 1965 and served five years as a communications officer in the United States Navy before beginning his journalism career at the Montgomery County (Maryland) Sentinel, where he was a reporter for one year before joining the Post.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#77 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By P. J Lambert on September 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Anyone interested in the Iran-Contra issue should have read this book. But the title, is a bit misleading. Woodward focuses too much on the Iran-Contra issue (and superficially at that) to the detriment of other CIA and DoD paramilitary/covert activities during the era of the 80s.
Furthermore, the way Woodward wove himself into the storyline would lead one to believe that he was a key character in the whole Casey-era saga. Fortunately, this is hardly the case.
Nevertheless, the book is a good review of the key players at the macro-level who were creating policy. Of note, the interaction between Goldwater and Casey is enlightening.
If you really want to get to the meat of CIA/DoD secret activities during this era, Steve Emerson's "Secret Warriors" will provide far more insight into the covert activities of the 80s.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on April 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am a big fair of Woodward, so much so that I would even consider reading his shopping list. With that said I will give him a little slack on the Casey deathbed revelations. I think if the author would have know the level of scorn he has received concerning the "Casey confession" he may have used a tape recorder.
Overall this book gives the reader some very interesting stories about the Regan years and his use of the CIA. The reader of any book covering a review of a set of government policies that had a very firm stamp of approval or even the direction of the President will always fall on side or another on if the book is a truthful and "shocking" exposé or a "political bias hatchet job". I think that is one of the fun things about this book, no matter what side of the argument you are on; you will experience some emotion while reading this book. If you are also very interested in this subject it is interesting to go back into time and read his review and then compare it to some of the new facts on the subject.
Overall, this is another Woodward book, well written and constructed, very detailed and full of a lot of conversations that make you feel that you are involved, not just page after page of monotone lecturing. I wish he spent a little more time on footnotes so that the reader could be a better judge to the research he puts into the book and the sources used. If you like Woodward, you will love this book. If you have leanings to the left then you will have a lot of "you see" stories to tell, and if you are a strong Reaganite then you will be happy with the strong effort described in the book to defeat the USSR.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Iain Gallacher on May 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent read where Bob Woodward with his astonishing access to sources deep inside the White House and CIA reveals the secret wars conducted by the CIA led by William Casey (1981-1987) during the Regan years. From Nicaragua to Afghanistan to the Iran-contra scandal Casey was involved in and controlled it all. The repercussions of his feverishly misguided policies and the secrets he kept from the U.S. Congress would have drastic effects on future generations of Americans and the world. One of Woodward's best!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 26, 2005
Format: Audio Cassette
This book presents the history of the CIA during William Casey's tenure, from 1981 to 1987. Woodward focused the book primarily on William Casey himself. The book details not only the various operations that the CIA was involved in during the 1980s, but also Casey's motivations for his leadership decisions. The CIA operations described in the book include everything from the mundane details of placing bugs in the offices of foreign leaders to the Iran-Contra affair.

Woodward gathered material from a variety of sources when writing this book. One of his primary sources was Casey himself. Woodward interviewed Casey on numerous occasions, and Casey was aware that Woodward was compiling material for a book about his leadership of the CIA. Casey was surprisingly forthcoming about his involvement in many covert operations. He must have felt confident that Woodward would not betray his trust and expose any material prematurely. What is odd is that Woodward discusses not only Casey's professional life, but also his personal life, and includes comments about such things as peanuts getting caught in Casey's dentures that seem mean-spirited rather than relevant for the story. Nevertheless, the historical documentation of Casey's leadership and CIA activities in the 1980s makes the book well worth reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marjorie M. Chase on March 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...Okay, so it's Operation "Ivy Bells"...I just wanted to relay an abbreviated connotation into the title, in a nutshell.

Specifically covering past espionage operations, this book relates excellent past internal working and policy decision making between various intelligence agencies, political players and other intelligence sources, not just the CIA. It covers specific, proven great detail.

You can get an in-depth idea of how "shadow systems" work around, and with, existing civilian and government markets, as well as DC politics that are often involved in big business and major political entities world-wide.

I find it a very informative book, especially with its "hindsight" into deeper inner workings of not just what policy IS, but HOW policy is CARRIED OUT in the real world, and the not so visible world.

An eye opener...well written, as to simultaneously inform and entertain.
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