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I was drawn to this title primarily because of my role as an associate in the early 1980s of the now defunct NYC office of the law firm, Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine, which claimed "Wild Bill" as its primary founder. A number of the vestiges of Donovan remained at that time, including several elderly, but rarely seen, senior partners and the afternoon tea caddy visit to each office.
I found some of the book quite interesting, including Donovan's early years and his interactions with J. Edgar Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. There were long sections that dragged--at least for me--relating to WWII strategies and political infighting. I suspect that these sections would be of more interest to aficionados of WWII familiar with the various characters and strategies influenced by the role of the OSS.
What does come across clearly in this book is a portrait of Donovan as a free-wheeling lawyer and businessman who, either courageously or recklessly, depending on your point of view, but always with total self-confidence, threw himself into the realm of subterfuge in what he believed was the best interests of his country. Indeed, his style is can still often be detected in the modus operandi of today's CIA.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Wild Bill Donovan?
There was a lot of repetition about all the military leaders who did not like the OSS and/or Donovan. The rivalry between the US and British spy agencies became tedious. The level of detail, while scholarly, became somewhat boring on occasion.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
I was looking forward to some interesting wartime spying episodes. While there were a few, a lot of the book was about the dysfunctional human interaction and competition.
Any additional comments?
Good read for those who like biographies and want considerable historical detail about the OSS. But it is not an action oriented or fast paced story.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful