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Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage Hardcover

3.9 out of 5 stars 269 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0054U5CQI
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Drawing on newly available research, former TIME diplomatic correspondent Doug Waller has written an exciting, fast-paced biography that focuses on Medal of Honor recipient Bill Donovan and his remarkable exploits in forging the OSS during World War II into the most innovative and imaginative operation to defeat the Nazis and Japan. Donovan led from the front. He convinced Franklin Roosevelt that the country needed an operation like this. Roosevelt agreed and Donovan was off and running. He recruited from the Army and Wall Street. He was willing to try anything. I'm not going to give away the amazing exploits that Waller describes -- why spoil the fun? If you submitted a script for a James Bond movie based on some of them, the producers would say, "hey, Bond does pretty wild things, but these are over the top." That was Donovan. Some of OSS's ideas worked brilliantly, others never got off the ground, but it's refreshing to see how the predecessor to the CIA got started and got things done. Waller is an experienced writer -- and a very good one. Others have written about Donovan, and I've read most of the other books. Helped by extensive research and access to previously classified information, this book combines two great strengths. The scholarship is superb. And it's a great read.

Submitted by James Farwell
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The history of espionage and especially its role in history had been acknowledged long ago. Any respectable historian cannot afford to ignore this particular field of study because intelligence has indeed played a significant role in the process of policy making everywhere.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
To say you served under him was to hitch your wagon to a movie star. If there ever was a 20th century man's man, that man was Wild Bill Donovan, a name given to him affectionately by the men who served under the Medal of Honor Winner and Colonel of the Rain Bow Division during World War I. Author Douglas Waller has captured the essence of the man in this REMARKABLE biography of one of America's truly REMARKABLE men. Born Irish on the wrong side of the tracks as far as Buffalo, New York society was concerned, Donovan used brains and charm to work his way to the top. Trained as a Columbia University lawyer, this man perhaps more than any other could be called a master of networking.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I wanted to take just a moment to post a note regards to the latest work by Douglas Waller entitled "Wild Bill Donovan," which is being published by Free Press, a division
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.
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