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The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and Mind Control: The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences Paperback – August 17, 1991

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A comprehensive, detailed and thoroughly readable account of the CIA safehouses, the brainwashing experiments, the involvement of the universities.” (Washington Monthly)

“Perhaps the most compelling, well-researched, organized and well-written account of CIA operations ever.” (Progressive)

“One of the most important books of the year. . . . We see the CIA on the cutting edge of inquiry into hypnosis, drugs, brainwashing, personality assessment, psychosurgery, electric and radio stimulations of the brain, the creation of involuntary amnesia, terminal shock therapy.” (Playboy)

“Fascinating reading.” (Washington Post)

From the Back Cover

A 'Manchurian Candidate' is an unwitting assassin brainwashed and programmed to kill. In this book, former State Department officer John Marks tells the explosive story of the CIA's highly secret program of experiments in mind control. His curiosity first aroused by information on a puzzling suicide. Marks worked from thousands of pages of newly released documents as well as interviews and behavioral science studies, producing a book that 'accomplished what two Senate committees could not' (Senator Edward Kennedy).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised ed. edition (August 17, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393307948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393307948
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable - what then? - George Orwell from _1984_.

_The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and Mind Control_ by John Marks published in 1979 is a somewhat dated account of the CIA's experiments in mind control. Marks obtained much of his material from documents released through the Freedom of Information Act; however, he had to actively pursue these documents and was involved in a lawsuit against the CIA in order to obtain much of his material. He notes that without the release of this material his research would not have been possible.

The author begins by noting the influence of World War II and Nazi science on subsequent investigations by the CIA, formerly the OSS. In particular, the discovery of the hallucinogenic (psychedelic) drug LSD by Albert Hofman of the Sandoz drug company in Basle, Switzerland was to play a central role in the coming experimental "science" of mind manipulation. The author outlines various sadistic experiments performed by the Nazi scientists and doctors on unwitting prisoners and explains how the Nuremburg Code developed. The author also explains the role of the intelligence operatives in the Second World War, including experiments with marijuana as a supposed truth drug, a whole arsenal of dirty tricks and assassination projects, and the attempt to psychoanalyse Adolf Hitler. Indeed, after the war, the intelligence community captured the surviving research by the Nazi scientists and attempted to sort through it for any scientific value it might have had.
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Format: Paperback
A fascinating look at the CIA's mind control programs and some of the loose cannons involved in them, particulary Dr. Ewen Cameron of Montreal's Allan Memorial Institute and his questionable experimental practices in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
From a Canadian perspective, if ever there was a need for oversight over such clandestine activities, Cameron's so called "depatterning," "psychic driving" techniques (not to mention the infamous "sleep rooms") certainly called for it. If we are to believe the author -- and there is no reason why we shouldn't -- even the CIA, who traveled periodically to Montreal to observe his work, found his proposals "chillingly explicit." Why? Well, even some of the CIA agents must have felt that Cameron's methods were -- to use THAT word, again -- chillingly close to or mirrored those adopted by the Nazis, many of whom would have enjoyed the hangman's noose were it not for Project Paperclip.
In Cameron the CIA found the perfect candidate to perform experiments on unwitting subjects without accountability and that could only be considered as crimes against humanity.
"In Cameron," states the author, "they [the CIA] had a doctor, conveniently outside the United States [for obvious reasons], willing to to terminal experiments [not unlike the Nazis, meaning even to the extent of losing the subject's life, a process devoid of either ethical or moral considerations] in electroshock, sensory deprivation, drug testing, and all of the above. By literally wiping the minds of his subjects clean by depatterning and then trying to program in new behavior, Cameron carried the process known as 'brainwashing' to it its logical extreme.
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Format: Paperback
John Marks is an excellent researcher. MK Ultra is an extremely dark chapter in the history of the intelligence, military, and R&D community. There are some troubling insights that I feel compelled to repeat here. First, this covert community destroyed an enormous amount of their records and documentation on secret activities in the late 60's and early 70's. They obviously destroyed the most damning portion of the paper trail. Yet out of the relatively benign information still available, we get proof of unethical conduct and allusions of possible illegal acts. There is even a hint that research was conducted on microwaves, ultrasonic, and electrical stimulation of the brain. There's little or no information on what was discovered in *these* subjects, or even whether the activities were truly halted. We now have indication that the military just so happens to have data on the use of sub & ultra sonics in nonleathal weapons. It's possible that the information, and possibly even current MK Ultra influenced research, is still around. I've heard military personnel say most of the very sensitive research does not occur on the CIA operative level, but in subcontractors and middle management who keep their own research records and staff.
Didn't Sirhan Sirhan say he'd been in a hypnotic trance? Did he say this before MK Ultra was revealed, or after? I wonder...
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By A Customer on December 27, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is probably the most quoted book I've seen on the topic of government experimentation on mind control. However, John Marks only follows the trail of the CIA. Many other branches/units of the government and military were involved in MK-Ultra. The Army, Navy, Air Force, NSA, DOD, DOE. Would be nice to see all resources pooled together to have one complete story of these experiments instead of just one small segment of it. In spite of the single focus, it is the best information out there for documentation...especially since many of the other agencies involved destroyed all or most of their MK-Ultra documents (which is another conspiracy in itself). Thank heavens for the persistence of John Marks to find these documents!
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