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By Gregory R. Martin on 08-14-04
Pre- 9/11 look at CIA's strengths and weaknesses
Sometimes fascinating, sometimes boring, and ultimately somewhat tragic, Kessler's review of the CIA provides some valuable context for readers of the 9/11 Commission report. Written before 1999, this book has little to say about terrorism, and even less to say about the direction of the CIA under Woolsey in the Clinton years. Kessler devotes a large amount of time to subjects like Iran-Contra, Aldrich Ames, the contrasting styles of Casey and Webster, and the basic structure of the CIA. The reader will get a good feel for the CIA's culture, as well as a more realistic (that is, less fictionalized and romantic) view of what the CIA does and how it operates.
The narrator is, frankly, not very dynamic. Kessler also repeats some details relentlessly; the controversy over the sale of CIA-themed coffee cups and the re-defection of Vitaly Yurchenko are two particularly annoying examples. The combination of a dull, lifeless narration with frequent repetition of details occasionally makes the book a bit boring. Nevertheless, if you are interested in the CIA's history up to about 1994 this is a must-have book.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Joe Pawlowski on 03-13-06
Good But Not Thrilling
This audiobook features good information on the history, organization and politics of the CIA. However, it would have been more interesting if the author had written more about covert activities.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful