Reviews for Cold Warrior : James Jesus Angleton : The Cia's Master Spy Hunter


Kirkus Reviews 1991 June
Among the top men who kept the CIA's secrets during the height of the cold war was James Jesus Angleton, chief of counterintelligence. Whether the austere and obsessive operative (who died in 1987) did more harm than good is the central issue in this evenhanded but unsparing biography by senior BBC TV correspondent Mangold (coauthor, The Tunnels of Cu Chi, 1985). Drawing on interviews with Angleton's associates, friends, enemies, and widow plus unclassified archival material, Mangold offers an arresting portrait of a charismatic paranoid. A veteran of WW II's OSS, Angleton decided to make a career of intelligence and signed on with the CIA when it opened for business in 1947. Chosen by Allen Dulles in 1954 to become the agency's first counterspy, he tackled his new assignment with a missionary fervor that never flagged. Over the next two decades, this true believer pursued a single-minded agenda based on a series of interlocking assumptions holding, for example, that the Sino-Soviet split was a delusion, that monolithic Communism aimed at nothing less than world dominion, and that the Kremlin's moles abounded in Western capitals. Surrounding himself with kindred spirits, Angleton conducted unavailing witch hunts, betrayed loyal field agents, provoked allied intelligence services, rejected virtually all defectors as KGB plants, and otherwise hobbled crucial CIA campaigns against the USSR. Paradoxically, this ultrasuspicious man was completely gulled by Great Britain's Kim Philby and Anatoli Golitsyn, a low-level but like-minded refugee from the Soviet Union. After Angleton was eased out of the agency in Watergate's wake, his successors found a wealth of secret files that had never been incorporated in the organization's central registry. In retirement, the former spycatcher cultivated rare orchids, engaged in fly-fishing, kept a generally low profile--and his own counsel, effectively preserving the Angleton mystique. Damningly documented judgments on an intelligence agent who played at the patriot game. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 1991 July #1
A character straight from a John le Carre novel, recently the subject of a PBS Frontline documentary, and still a figure of controversy, Angleton was for 22 years the chief of the CIA's counterintelligence staff. With his neurotic, obsessive, and destructive belief in a master Communist conspiracy and in the penetration of the CIA by Soviet moles, Angleton not only betrayed defectors and ruined his CIA colleagues; wrecked careers and lost lives followed his tread. Based on exhaustive research, Mangold's fascinating account argues persuasively that Angleton did more to damage U.S. intelligence than all the Soviet spies put together. Angleton was ``responsible for the loss of priceless intelligence from the very heart of the KGB and the GRU'' without ever catching one mole. This book is sure to reopen the bitter major debate over Golitsyn and Nosenko. Reservation: Mangold does not pursue broader questions about the cost of America's Cold War anti-Communist neuroses that drove the country for so many years. For international affairs and espionage collections.-- H. Steck, SUNY at Cortland Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1991 May #1
Mangold's first-class biography of James Angleton, CIA counterintelligence chief from 1955 to 1975, who died in 1987, concentrates on Angleton's obsessive search for Soviet double agents within the agency. When the investigation outside his own department failed to produce a ``mole,'' Angleton moved against the counterintelligence staff itself. The result, as Mangold reveals, was an internal-affairs skirmish that claimed several innocent victims. No spy was ever found. The great ``molehunt'' caused so much damage to Western intelligence that some suspected Angleton himself of being a Soviet agent. Mangold relates the episode involving Yury Nosenko, who defected to the West in 1964; Angleton, convinced he was a Soviet plant, kept him a secret prisoner of the CIA throughout much of the 1960s and tried unsuccessfully to force a ``confession'' from him. The book is an intriguing account of self-destructive paranoia in America's intelligence community. Mangold is the author of The Tunnels of Cu Chi. Photos. (June) Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information.

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