The author of the critically acclaimed best seller Wild Bill Donovan tells the story of four OSS warriors of World War II. All four later led the CIA.
They are the most famous and controversial directors the CIA has ever had - Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, William Colby, and William Casey. Disciples is the story of these dynamic agents and their daring espionage and sabotage in wartime Europe under OSS Director Bill Donovan.
Allen Dulles ran the OSS' most successful spy operation against the Axis. Bill Casey organized dangerous missions to penetrate Nazi Germany. Bill Colby led OSS commando raids behind the lines in occupied France and Norway. Richard Helms mounted risky intelligence programs against the Russians in the ruin of Berlin after the German surrender.
Four very different men, they later led (or misled) the successor CIA. Dulles launched the calamitous operation to land CIA-trained, anti-Castro guerrillas at Cuba's Bay of Pigs. Helms was convicted of lying to Congress over the CIA's role in the coup that ousted Chile's president. Colby would become a pariah for releasing to Congress what became known as the "Family Jewels" report on CIA misdeeds during the 1950s, '60s and early '70s. Casey would nearly bring down the CIA - and Ronald Reagan's presidency - from a scheme that secretly supplied Nicaragua's contras with money raked off from the sale of arms to Iran for American hostages in Beirut.
Mining thousands of once-secret World War II documents and interviewing scores of family members and CIA colleagues, Waller has written a brilliant successor to Wild Bill Donovan.
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A "Boys in the Boat" for WWII Intrigue
I actually have listened to several sections a few times, just to make sure I have all the characters right. And there are so many intriguing personalities going on here. To think this was real! This would make a great espionage film! Jason Bourne for reals, kids!
The author has so skillfully profiles every one of the young men who volunteered for Wild Bill Donovan's fledgling espionage ring, known as the OSS. I think my favorite might be Richard Helms, who was a gawky guy, too tall, too thin, too unhealthy. No branch of the military wanted him. But he persevered and ended up finding his stride in the OSS. So many of the members of this legendary group were rich or handsome-or both! Dick Helms is kind of the geeky guy you want to root for.
Great books can be ruined by poor narrative skills. Happy to say that George Newbern did a great job. He was so pleasant to my ear, in fact, that I found myself pausing to look him up, to see what else he's read. If I see his name under "Narrated by" for any future book purchases...well, that's a strong recommendation!
I like this book so much, I'm reviewing it before even getting half-way through. But so far, what I find really touching is how all the players were eager to give up their own lives in order to fight the Nazis. We were losing the war and a lot of it had to do with the lack of solid espionage skills. These guys helped to change the direction of the war.
In the vein of truly great historic tomes such as SEABISCUIT, UNBROKEN, and BOYS IN THE BOAT, this is a deeply researched, well-crafted book that keeps you turning the page as you get to know--and cheer--for the men who became the OSS, the precursor to the CIA. Whether you like spycraft, or just love a good history book, this is a winner.
- Annie M.
One of the best books!