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OSS: The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency Paperback – August 1, 2005
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"Smith's absorbing book is really an introduction to what the OSS and its crew of generally exceptionally able and imaginative employees was all about."--Foreign Service Journal
"He describes how the OSS figured in, and was related to, the whole diplomatic and military history of the war."--Annals
From the Back Cover
During his tenure, Donovan oversaw a chaotic cast of some ten thousand agents drawn from the most conservative financial scions to the country's most idealistic New Deal true believers. Together they usurped the roles of government agencies both foreign and domestic, concocted unbelievably complicated conspiracies, and fought the good fight against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. For example, when OSS operatives stole vital military codebooks from the Japanese embassy in Portugal, the operation was considered a success. But the success turned into a flop as the Japanese discovered what had happened, and hastily changed a code that had already been decrypted by the U.S. Navy.
Colorful personalities and truly priceless anecdotes abound in what may arguably be called the most authoritative work on the subject.
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Top Customer Reviews
I'll admit I finally gave up while in the early part of the book. It was an awful read. I sincerely regret paying $9.09 for the Kindle version. A rip off. I wish I could get my money back.
In my 86 years, I can count on my two hands the books I did not finish reading. I'm sad to add this one to that count. I am astounded some readers gave this 5 stars. I charitably rated it 2 stars.
The book appears to be very well researched and contains information not found in other books I have read. It does a thorough job of demonstrating the somewhat valid yet frustrating nature of our disagreements with the British and French over policy, strategy and even tactics. I just wish that the author had edited the material down and focused on key points rather than attempting to cover everything more shallowly.
On yhr original book's dust jacket, the question is asked, "What did Stewart Alsop, John Birch, Julia Child, Allen Dulles, John Gardner, Arthur Goldberg....and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. have in common?" They were in the OSS! Wild Bill Donovan may have recruited just about anyone for the OSS, even avowed Marxists and Communists, in the drive to defeat Fascism, but the effects of his methods linger on today worldwide. This book is a well-documented, well-written, and important history lesson. As the old saying goes, "you reap what you sow"--and we are still reaping what the OSS did during the Second World War. Any student of history, American history, the War, and international politics (which includes war, or politics by other means) would do well to read this book and heed the inherent warnings within; it was written as the edifice of nationalism in the United States began to wither, in the early 1970s, and we are seeing the effects of these attempts to further erode our national sovereignty now. The freewheeling OSS may have been part of the beginning of that destruction--or, at least, deconstruction.
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