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Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA Hardcover – October 18, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and interviews with former agents, Riebling's expose of the bitter rivalry between the FBI and CIA is presented through the prism of national traumas that might have turned out differently had these agencies worked togther: the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the McCarthy-era loyalty investigations, the JFK assassination and the World Trade Center bombing. Relations have always been tense, shows Riebling, dating back to the early years of WWII when William Donovan, head of the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the CIA), built a network of agents against the wishes of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Interagency animosity was further fueled by Hoover's suspicion that a later CIA director, Walter Bedell Smith, was a Communist. The FBI's obsessive search for Soviet moles during the '60s led to a formal disassociation in 1970, when Hoover abolished the Liaison Section. Relations are still so poor that the recent arraignment of Soviet spy Aldridge Ames was presented to the public, according to the author, less as a national-security catastrophe than as an example of something rare and wonderful-cooperation between the FBI and CIA. Riebling is a former Random House editor; this is his first book.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The conflict between the FBI and the CIA over publicity, money, and scope of operations is old news, but this book does an adequate job of putting it all in perspective. Riebling reviews accusations that bureaucratic struggles led to mistakes and tragedies such as Pearl Harbor, JFK's assassination, and the mishandling of spies in the United States, most recently Aldrich Ames. Such problems resulted from the differing personalities of those involved, particularly J. Edgar Hoover; differing missions; and differing corporate cultures-while the CIA was derived from freewheeling World War II foreign operations, the FBI focused on domestic security and the punishment of criminals. The author frequently tries to explain the context of American history for the last 50 years so that the reader has some idea of why things happened the way they did. Ian Fleming appears frequently, since he played an important role during World War II in outlining the foundations of a centralized American intelligence service. This is an interesting and enjoyable book to read, but the reader will be frustrated by the waste and pettiness of those in charge. Recommended for informed readers.
Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
"There are few books that adequately cover this subject. Much of what passes for 'the literature' is overblown, conspiracy-addled and fragmented. But Mark Riebling, a historian, has made a valiant effort to piece it all together in WEDGE.... The fact that he has taken great pains to avoid using anonymous sources is just one of a number of reasons why serious students of this nation's haywire-rigged counterintelligence effort should read WEDGE.... Refreshingly unlike most spy literature.... the cumulative effect of his tales is staggering." -- John Fialka, The Wall Street Journal.
"Any illusions that the two organizations simply mirror each other are thoroughly shattered. Riebling meticulously traces the continuing conflict and its consequences, which sometimes took the form of Keystone Cop episodes but more often were deadly serious." -- Houston Chronicle.
"A surprisingly fresh, coherent, well-written and persuasive analysis. Striking conclusions, a succession of colorful adventurers, and highly provocative speculations which have the unsettling ring of plausibility." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"A lively and engaging narrative of interagency bungling, infighting, malfeasance and nonfeasance, providing fresh and well-rounded portraits of well-known (and ought-to-be-well-known) agents -- drawing on scores of original and rewarding interviews." -- Richard Gid Powers, front page, Washington Post Book World.
"Riebling successfully re-creates the life-or-death atmosphere of the half-century of American confrontation with the Soviet Union. Mr. Riebling succeeds as well in persuading the reader that the FBI-CIA conflict was a more important piece of the cold war mosaic than heretofore noted by historians." -- Michael R. Beschloss, New York Times Book Review.
"Incisive.... Riebling shows how personalities shaped the struggle between the agencies, and how the struggle hampered intelligence. There's much here to stimulate discussion." -- Tampa Tribune.
"Riebling brings forth many new angles, thanks to his entree to a web of retired agents. A well organized, engaging account." -- Booklist.
"Serves up some juicy insights. The book is full of colorful and strong characters as well as entertaining description and lucid writing." -- Toledo Blade.
"Meticulously researched yet entertaining... Persuasively identifies Woodward and Bernstein's mysterious informant Deep Throat." -- San Francisco Chronicle.
"An exceptionally readable and coherent account, exhaustively sourced. Riebling meticulously but engagingly takes his readers through CIA's operations [and] presents a most intriguing hypothesis as to the identity of the long-silent Deep Throat. True Watergate buffs will be titillated. I'd put my money on the one the author suspects most." -- John Robbins, former CIA officer, The Palm Beach Post.
"Riebling's impressive documentation is chilling, sobering, and thought provoking." -- Virginia Quarterly Review.
"Riebling's writing is articulate and reflective. He explains the Angleton view so competently that it finally makes sense on its own terms." -- BookBase Online.
"In WEDGE, Mark Riebling's compelling and exhaustively researched history of the two intelligence giants, the depth of [the] inter-agency animus -- and its pernicious effects -- becomes distressingly clear. ... Riebling has avoided tarring the late FBI boss [J. Edgar Hoover] with the kind of sensationalist touches common to recent biographies. ... He is respectful of those he believes played the both wisely and well. If a heroic figure emerges from WEDGE it is the late James Jesus Angleton, the CIA's controversial director of counterintelligence for more than 20 years. Riebling partially rehabilitates Angleton from the drubbing he's taken in recent books such as David Wise's "Molehunt," in which he is depicted as disrupting his own agency in a futile, paranoid search for a nonexistent mole.... Riebling has crafted a thorough history of the fatally flawed CIA-FBI marriage through interviews with many of the key players and reams of internal documents, many of them recently declassified. WEDGE also is the beneficiary of extraordinary timing. Its releases coincides with a renewed furor in Washington over the CIA and its mandate.... WEDGE accords the current crisis an appropriate historical context." -- Scott Ladd, Newsday.
"Well researched, wittily written, full of good judgments. In a large and growing field, WEDGE will join the shelf of those few books which meet both standards of scholarship and expectations for insight and entertainment at a high level." -- Robin Winks, Professor of History, Yale University.