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Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 8, 2011
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"Contemporary history is seldom as relevant and engaging as Douglas Waller's new biography, Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage, which is -- by turns -- fascinatingly instructive and thoroughly entertaining." --L.A. Times
“Wild Bill Donovan, the founding father of American espionage, jumps off the page in Douglas Waller’s superb biography of one of the nation’s most important and least understood leaders of the 20th Century. Waller marvelously evokes an era when a matinee-idol character like Donovan could turn Washington into his own secret playground even as he ended America’s naivete about the necessity of stealing the secrets of other gentlemen. Waller takes us back to a time, long before bureaucratic sclerosis set in at the Central Intelligence Agency, when American spies lived in technicolor.”
-- James Risen, author of State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
“Whether fighting on the battlefield during World War I, leading the OSS during World War II, or prosecuting Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, William Donovan’s service to his country was historic and extraordinary. In Wild Bill Donovan, Douglas C. Waller’s impressive research and riveting writing bring the ‘Father of American Intelligence’ to life, drawing the reader into one of the most thrilling and remarkable periods in American history.”
--Lee H. Hamilton, former Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
"This superb, dramatic yet scholarly biography, tells a great deal about the man who built a far-flung intelligence organization from scratch in the midst of World War II." --The Washington Post
“In this fast-paced, entertaining and engrossing biography, the author delivers a portrait of a hard-driving, Type A extrovert willing to take on political enemies…A well-calibrated assessment of Donovan and the impact of the OSS on the war…The book is replete with fascinating anecdotes ...and tales of derring-do.”” -- the Associated Press
In Wild Bill Donovan, Douglas Waller brings the larger than life William J. Donovan – a World War I Medal of Honor winner, Office of Strategic Services founder, CIA architect, and one of the 20th century’s most compelling figures – to life. Waller's impressive skill as a journalist, his expertise about the U.S. intelligence community, and a remarkable writing ability complement one another in this fascinating and insightful portrait of Donovan the man, not the myth, and enhances our appreciation of his remarkable legacy. General Donovan attributed much of the success of the Office of Strategic Services to “good old fashioned intellectual sweat.” This informative, enjoyable, and important book deserves the same compliment.
--Charles Pinck, President, The OSS Society, Inc.
“An extraordinary portrait of an extraordinary figure in 20th century American history, a man beyond the power of fiction to invent. Wild Bill Donovan is brilliantly researched and beautifully told, as evocative and enlightening as it is entertaining.”
--Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle
“Douglas Waller gives us the definitive portrait of the fascinating, creative, disorganized, brave man who—starting from nothing during our biggest war—created our modern capacity for human intelligence and covert operations. A must for all who would understand American intelligence.”
--R. James Woolsey, Chair, Woolsey Partners, LLC and Director of Central Intelligence, 1993-1995
“In a time when espionage consists largely of technicians in windowless rooms, far from the battlefield, collecting signals and pictures from satellites and drones, it is both refreshing and fascinating to read Doug Waller’s story of the man behind World War II’s spy organization, the OSS. Long before there was a CIA, there was Major General “Wild Bill” Donovan, and Waller’s extensively researched and highly entertaining book takes the reader back to the days when spying meant sending dedicated agents behind enemy lines to risk their lives to steal secrets and help win the war.”
--James Bamford, bestselling author of Body of Secrets and The Shadow Factory
Top Customer Reviews
Submitted by James Farwell
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While it has some interesting background and I am not through it yet nor into the WWII era I have found it kind of slow.Published 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
I thought it was hard to follow because it skipped around a lot but maybe that was required for a book of this nature.Published 3 days ago by Kirby M Carlton
An exciting history of the background and development of the OSS/CIA spanning two world wars and moving forward into the Vietnam era. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
Read this book after reading Bridge of Spies. Well written and thoroughly researched. Recommend for any history or spy buffsPublished 23 days ago by Grayson Ravenwood
A nice biography of a man who was a visionary of his time. The author portrays Bill Donovan as a leader who fights to have his vision become a reality and ultimately the foundation... Read morePublished 25 days ago by Louvie Tucker
Flamboyant historical figure reduced to cliches, poor writing style, and incessant excessive details that made my eyes glaze over. Very disappointing. Even at $2. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Gentlewatercolors
The topic is interesting but the style is monotonous. I'll go looking for a more interesting version. Blah blah blah.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer