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The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton Hardcover – October 24, 2017
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“The best book ever written about the strangest CIA chief who ever lived. No screenwriter or novelist could conjure a character like Angleton, but Morley's stellar reporting and superb writing animate every page of this work. It's essential history and highly entertaining biography.” --Tim Weiner, National Book Award–winning author of Legacy of Ashes
“The Ghost is the compulsively readable, often bizarre true-life story of American spymaster James Jesus Angleton. Capturing the extent of Angleton’s eccentricity, duplicity and alcohol-fueled paranoia would have challenged the writing skills of a Le Carre or Ludlum, and Jeff Morley has done it with flair.” - Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act
"James Angleton's real life is the most intriguing, moving, and at times shocking spy story in American history. In The Ghost, Jeff Morley has captured the man in all his brilliant and sometimes delusional eccentricity. Angleton is woven through many of the strangest episodes of the 1950s and 60s--including the Kennedy assassination--in what was invisible thread, until Morley's book. A 'must read' for anyone who wants to understand just how strange and secretive the CIA was at the height of the Cold War." --David Ignatius, columnist for The Washington Post and author of The Director
“Americans are finally coming to know the Cold War spymasters and other hidden figures who lived their lives in secrecy while shaping our national destiny. The Ghost reveals a fascinating chapter of this hidden history. It is a chilling look at the global power that is wielded in Washington by people who are never known―until a book comes out to spill their secrets.” –Stephen Kinzer, author of The Brothers
“Anyone interested in the CIA should not fail to read The Ghost. I encountered James Angleton time and again, not only in the course of research but, one memorable evening, literally. I say ‘memorable,’ but only because―amongst hundreds of interviews I have conducted―he indeed came over as a phantom, seemingly cooperative yet always inscrutable. Nobody has focused on him, mined what can be mined, as Jefferson Morley has now done. Essential reading for anyone intrigued by the vital mysteries of U.S. intelligence at a pivotal time in our history.” –Anthony Summers, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Eleventh Day
“[Morley] does a fine job of filleting out [Angleton’s] talents and charisma from the dark deeds he committed…Morley adeptly builds a picture of a spymaster weaving a web in which his concept of duty gradually eroded his moral sense.” - Ben Macintyre, The Times of London
“A page-turning biography of an eccentric spy hunter...In Angleton, [Morley] has a character beyond the imagination of John LeCarré, perhaps even of Patricia Highsmith.” - StarTribune
"Scintillating... [the book] delves into an important and rarely visited terrain." - Mondoweiss
"Essential reading for anyone interested in how our intelligence network operated during the Cold War." - LewRockwell.com
About the Author
JEFFERSON MORLEY is a journalist and editor who has worked in Washington journalism for over thirty years, fifteen of which were spent as an editor and reporter at The Washington Post. The author of Our Man in Mexico, a biography of the CIA’s Mexico City station chief Winston Scott, Morley has written about intelligence, military, and political subjects for Salon, The Atlantic, and The Intercept, among others. He is the editor of JFK Facts, a blog. He lives in Washington, DC.
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A couple of minor quibbles. Wonder if too much is made of the Yale English Lit influence, and not enough of his family background, ie, he referred to himself as a "Chicano" but the author never fleshes that out or wonders of its effects, if any, on Angleton. That he comes from family wealth--not fully explained. The behavioral effect, if any, of his conversion (with family) to mysticism, becoming swamis, changing names...
But those are minor concerns and given the total lack of a record as spoken by Angleton, this is a monumental achievement. It is essential reading for anyone interested in how our intelligence network operated during the Cold War. It also makes for an excellent companion to such seminal works as Tim Weiner's prize-winning "Legacy of Ashes" and P. Shenon's "A Cruel and Shocking Act."
I highly recommend The Ghost to anyone who is interested in history, government & of course, Mr. Angleton himself.
Redundant as it may be to refer to Mr. Angleton as a fascinating character, that’s exactly what he is. From his upbringing in Boise, Idaho to becoming an internationally educated young man to his career in intelligence,one certainly can’t say he lived a dull life.
The author makes comparisons of Angleton to Machiavelli, Svengali & others. I must say they are extraordinarily on the mark. What made this guy tick? Was it the power? The intellectual game—brilliantly mad as he may have been? Creating a world unto himself through which even his closest ‘friends’ & associates never appear to have fully penetrated?
I’m guessing the answer is most likely some combination of the above, yet even with that, I believe you’ve only got the tip of the iceberg.
The only thing I’d love to know more about was Angleton’s family. Granted, his family life appears nearly non-existent, yet you can’t help but want to picture his wife Cicely & their children. One can’t help but wonder what they made of this man. Of course, I also understand & respect why they would opt for their privacy to remain such.
In any event, you can’t help but want to delve deeper in to Angleton’s head. For the better & the worse, I believe he contributed more to the US government than many realize. Having been born around the time he passed, I have known James Angleton only through books & similar. As a history geek, this is one book I highly recommend.
This is a fascinating study of a very strange, eccentric driven man who virtually ran the CIA behind the scenes for nearly thirty years. While an interesting read, the flow of topics seems to jump around a bit, even though the chronology does stay in tact. Nonetheless, well-worth the read.
Unless you're looking for more "grassy knoll" idiocy, don't waste your time and money.
Most recent customer reviews
I don't know whether to love him or hate him.
I guess it's a grey, nebulous area, just like the CIA.