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Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage Paperback – February 21, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416576207
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416576204
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Waller brings to his latest biography the high skills as a biographer that he brought to A Question of Loyalty: Gen. Billy Mitchell and the Court-Martial That Gripped the Nation (2004). Donovan, the head of WWII�s Office of Strategic Services, was a New York Irishman who won the Medal of Honor in WWI. Between the wars, he became successful on Wall Street and a personal friend of FDR. When President Roosevelt was looking for someone to head an intelligence agency not controlled by either the armed forces or the FBI, he called on Donovan. Donovan was at daggers drawn with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the service intelligence branches, and also recruited too many Ivy Leaguers, but the OSS did pull its weight in wartime intelligence. Donovan also drank too much, chased too many women, lost too many relatives at early ages, and generally did not fit into the postwar world, where the CIA replaced his OSS. Exhaustively researched but not exhaustingly written, this will probably stand as the definitive biography of a seminal figure in the history of American intelligence. --Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Waller's realism about these issues combined with an obvious affection for the remarkable charter of Wild Bill Donovan have resulted in a splendid biography." ---The Los Angeles Times --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

Customer Reviews

This is a very well written and researched book about the beginning of the OSS.
G. Radcliffe Schultz
The book is has both too little and too much detail and does a very poor job of setting the background to understand the various missions the OSS took part in.
smkakhoo
Waller's biography of Wild Bill Donovan, as the founder of American espionage was good.
Pipermike

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 110 people found the following review helpful By A. G. Vanderplaats on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to take just a moment to post a note regards to the latest work by Douglas Waller entitled "Wild Bill Donovan," which is being published by Free Press, a division
of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

My take on his book is that the book has been both well researched and written and that it should also to be on the 'must read' list of everyone who has even a passing interest in the OSS and the man who ran the organization. The book touches on many personal aspects of Donovan's life, as well as on a number of the other details of Donovan's career besides just as head of the OSS. I for one especially found the
information concerning the time Donovan spent as Ambassador to Thailand and what he
was secretly sent there to do by President Eisenhower most enlightening.

On a scale of 1-10 I'd rate this book a solid 10.
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107 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gelman on February 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The history of espionage and especially its role in history had been acknowledged long ago. Any respectable historian cannot afford to ignore this particular field of study because intelligence has indeed played a significant role in the process of policy making everywhere.
This point is relevant when one is interested to know more about the history of WWW2 and the Cold War. The release of ten of millions of declasssified documents pertaining to intelligence matters has yielded a tremendous number of studies, monographs and histories on this fascinating angle of human history.
Some spies became legendary many years after their demise, but Bill Donovan was one of thoes whose name was famous already in his lifetime, creating the OSS-the Office of Strategic Services, after Roosevelt, who had been a political opponent of Donovan in the 1930s, approved Donovan's original idea about establishing this service.
Donovan came from a poor Irish family but later marrried into wealth. His wife, Ruth,who was daughter of a very rich family in Buffalo,was a chronic depressive and Donovan's frequent cheating on her hardly helped Ruth cope with her disease. Rumours said that he had even slept with his daughter-in-law, Mary, but soon this proved to be a blatant lie spread by the malicious tongues of Donovan's opponents. Donovan had to fight bureaucrats from the army and the State Department all his life. His most severe foe was none other than another legendary figure,that of J.Edgar Hoover, the chief of the FBI, who accused Donovan of being soft on Communists.
Donovan was a hero of WW1 and was decorated for bravery on the battlefields of France. He was given his nickname "Wild Bill" by his men because he put them through grueling training for battle.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By James Farwell on February 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Drawing on newly available research, former TIME diplomatic correspondent Doug Waller has written an exciting, fast-paced biography that focuses on Medal of Honor recipient Bill Donovan and his remarkable exploits in forging the OSS during World War II into the most innovative and imaginative operation to defeat the Nazis and Japan. Donovan led from the front. He convinced Franklin Roosevelt that the country needed an operation like this. Roosevelt agreed and Donovan was off and running. He recruited from the Army and Wall Street. He was willing to try anything. I'm not going to give away the amazing exploits that Waller describes -- why spoil the fun? If you submitted a script for a James Bond movie based on some of them, the producers would say, "hey, Bond does pretty wild things, but these are over the top." That was Donovan. Some of OSS's ideas worked brilliantly, others never got off the ground, but it's refreshing to see how the predecessor to the CIA got started and got things done. Waller is an experienced writer -- and a very good one. Others have written about Donovan, and I've read most of the other books. Helped by extensive research and access to previously classified information, this book combines two great strengths. The scholarship is superb. And it's a great read.

Submitted by James Farwell
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Format: Hardcover
To say you served under him was to hitch your wagon to a movie star. If there ever was a 20th century man's man, that man was Wild Bill Donovan, a name given to him affectionately by the men who served under the Medal of Honor Winner and Colonel of the Rain Bow Division during World War I. Author Douglas Waller has captured the essence of the man in this REMARKABLE biography of one of America's truly REMARKABLE men. Born Irish on the wrong side of the tracks as far as Buffalo, New York society was concerned, Donovan used brains and charm to work his way to the top. Trained as a Columbia University lawyer, this man perhaps more than any other could be called a master of networking.

He knew who, and what he had to know in order to high speed it to wherever he wanted to go, and to the top is where he wanted to be. There would be tradeoffs all along the way. He would marry wealth, join the right clubs, and make the acquaintance of all the right people. He would risk life and limb during World War I, and be idolized by his men. It would be left to others to boast of him and persuade a reluctant army to award Donovan the Medal of Honor some four years after the war ended. Others wanted to perhaps Court Martial him for the same actions.

There are 389 pages of narrative divided into 34 chapters, followed by 51 pages of source notes. The 17 page index has also been done well. Douglas Waller the author spent six years reporting on the CIA for both Newsweek and Time Magazine. He has penned five additional books involving the military and foreign policy. It is obvious in reading this book that he has taken a liking to the man we now call the father of American intelligence, and it shows right through in this work.
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