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The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War--a Tragedy in Three Acts (2020)

Tekijä: Scott Anderson

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
2269119,891 (4.23)6
"At the end of World War II, the United States dominated the world militarily, economically, and in moral standing - seen as the victor over tyranny and a champion of freedom. But it was clear - to some - that the Soviet Union was already executing a plan to expand and foment revolution around the world. The American government's strategy in response relied on the secret efforts of a newly-formed CIA. THE QUIET AMERICANS chronicles the exploits of four spies - Michael Burke, a charming former football star fallen on hard times, Frank Wisner, the scion of a wealthy Southern family, Peter Sichel, a sophisticated German Jew who escaped the Nazis, and Edward Lansdale, a brilliant ad executive. The four ran covert operations across the globe, trying to outwit the ruthless KGB in Berlin, parachuting commandos into Eastern Europe, plotting coups, and directing wars against Communist insurgents in Asia. But time and again their efforts went awry, thwarted by a combination of stupidity and ideological rigidity at the highest levels of the government - and more profoundly, the decision to abandon American ideals. By the mid-1950s, the Soviet Union had a stranglehold on Eastern Europe, the U.S. had begun its disastrous intervention in Vietnam, and America, the beacon of democracy, was overthrowing democratically-elected governments and earning the hatred of much of the world. All of this culminated in an act of betrayal and cowardice that would lock the Cold War into place for decades to come. Anderson brings to the telling of this story all the narrative brio, deep research, skeptical eye, and lively prose that made LAWRENCE IN ARABIA a major international bestseller. The intertwined lives of these men began in a common purpose of defending freedom, but the ravages of the Cold War led them to different fates. Two would quit the CIA in despair, stricken by the moral compromises they had to make; one became the archetype of the duplicitous and destructive American spy; and one would be so heartbroken he would take his own life. THE QUIET AMERICANS is the story of these four men. It is also the story of how the United States, at the very pinnacle of its power, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory".--… (lisätietoja)
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 9) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
It didn't really grab me, and then my library loan expired, so I didn't stick around to find out if the pace picked up.
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
This excellent professionally researched book answered many nagging questions I’ve had about how our intelligence agencies veered off course from fighting fascism and then Stalinist oppression, to ignoring the later and aiding oppressive regimes built on shaky, undemocratic foundations as the cold war escalated. Not only that, but the men in charge, mired in their own turf battles and fending off spurious accusations from the McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover witch-hunts, developed a paranoid mind-set that almost mirrored Stalin’s. after Stalin’s death they failed to recognize and take advantage of the peace feelers from the new Soviet leadership. Then, when actual popular rebellion brock out in East Germany and later in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, which they had been encouraging for years, they sat on their hands and did nothing, allowing thousands to die or be thrown in the Gulag. The lessons? We must be vigilant and not follow blindly those we put in power. ( )
  RonSchulz | Jun 24, 2022 |
A good book that lacks greatness because of the inevitable problems that occur when one tries to engage in multiple biographies on different individuals at the same time. The author needs to make a choice in whether on whether to cover issues topically, chronologically or both.

By covering issues topically and chronologically the writing style was disjointed which could be confusing.

Where Scott Anderson greatly succeeds is in telling the story of 4 different individuals who worked for the OSS, CIA or both of which Edward Lansdale might be the best known but we also read of Frank Wisner, Michael Burke, Wild Bill Donovan, Peter Sichel and the enigmatic Allen Dulles head of the CIA and older brother Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.We are also treated to a partial history of the OSS and CIA and the early days of the Cold War, it successes in the Philippines and Berlin, its failures most notably in Vietnam and Hungary and our engagement in regime changes most notably in Iran and Guatemala.

A must read for those interested in the early days of the CIA and Cold War. Don’t let what it doesn’t do keep you from an enlightening book. ( )
  dsha67 | Apr 18, 2022 |
Interesting stories leading from WWII into the cold war ( )
  So0oClose | Feb 12, 2022 |
This was a great book! Very thought provoking. An awakening of how the United Sates squandered its moral and political standings after World War II. It was a fascinating set of stories about the four CIA spies and it was so informative.I came away from this book with a much different viewpoint of our nation’s history right after World War II. And not a positive one at that! I also came away with much different opinions and perspectives about “icons” like Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas McArthur.

(McArthur was not a fan of intelligence services. However as the book points out, McArthur was caught off guard with the invasion of the Philippines by the Japanese, the invasion of South Korea by North Korea and the introduction of Chinese troops in the Korean War. These three happened under his watch and command.)

(Eisenhower sat on his hands and did nothing during the anti-Communist insurgencies in Hungary and Poland.)

This is a long read but it is not presented like dry history. The stories are compelling. Highly recommended!

The author provided information on the following topics:
Kim Philby
Opposition by J. Edgar Hoover to a foreign intelligence service (Hoover wanted that power too)
Churchill’s secret deal with Stalin. Britian keeps Greece. Russia gets Eastern European countries.
FDR’s trust of Stalin and its consequences
U.S. first major blunders in Vietnam
How overthrows of democratic governments in Iran and Guatemela were conducted by the U.S. and why
CIA blunders in trying to establish intelligence services within Russian controlled countries

My favorite quotes from the book:

Yet, it was not the downfall that anyone observing the cascade of events in eastern Europe that autumn may have predicted, not the collapse of the Soviet Union, or the breaking away of those satellite nations in its thrall. Rather it was to be the fall of the United States’ moral standing in the world, the extinguishing of whatever claim to a higher degree of honor or altruism it still enjoyed. It was to be the final laying bare of the myth of America as the herald of freedom.

In this, the United States really had no one to blame but herself. By the autumn of 1956, she had shown her preference for a dictatorship over democracy in Iran and Guatemala. She had so thoroughly shred her anti-colonial stance of the Roosevelt years as to aid her European imperial allies in quelling independence movements around the world. Under the leadership of the Dulles Brothers, the United States had compiled the hit list of foreign leaders to be removed, by assassinations if necessary.

Most shameful of all, in the tumult of the autumn of 1956, America may have lost the best chance it ever had to bring the Cold War to an early close, and to avert all the tragedy that was to come. pg. 431

One of the most tragic results of this mania was that it fairly blinded successive American administrations to pick up on rapprochement signals from the Soviets that may have led to an early detente. While it's hard to imagine anyone trusting in such an overture from Stalin, many Cold War historians pointed three specific moments in the early post Stalin era when a very different relationship with Moscow might have just been possible: just after Stalin’s death, when the moderates within the Soviet Politburo talked for the first time of ‘peaceful coexistence’ with the West; in the wake of Khrushchev’s February 1956 De-Stalinization speech and the spirit of liberalization and reformed it unleashed; and amid the Hungarian revolution of eight months later, when the Soviet Union appeared poised to release one of its satellites and enter a radically new relationship with those that remained. All three of those moments of opportunity were summarily squandered, and in that squandering ensured that the Cold War and all that came with it – – trillions of dollars in defense spending; American military engagements from Vietnam to Grenada; and almost countless numbers of proxy wars over three continents – – would continue for 35 more years.


. ( )
  writemoves | Oct 26, 2021 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"At the end of World War II, the United States dominated the world militarily, economically, and in moral standing - seen as the victor over tyranny and a champion of freedom. But it was clear - to some - that the Soviet Union was already executing a plan to expand and foment revolution around the world. The American government's strategy in response relied on the secret efforts of a newly-formed CIA. THE QUIET AMERICANS chronicles the exploits of four spies - Michael Burke, a charming former football star fallen on hard times, Frank Wisner, the scion of a wealthy Southern family, Peter Sichel, a sophisticated German Jew who escaped the Nazis, and Edward Lansdale, a brilliant ad executive. The four ran covert operations across the globe, trying to outwit the ruthless KGB in Berlin, parachuting commandos into Eastern Europe, plotting coups, and directing wars against Communist insurgents in Asia. But time and again their efforts went awry, thwarted by a combination of stupidity and ideological rigidity at the highest levels of the government - and more profoundly, the decision to abandon American ideals. By the mid-1950s, the Soviet Union had a stranglehold on Eastern Europe, the U.S. had begun its disastrous intervention in Vietnam, and America, the beacon of democracy, was overthrowing democratically-elected governments and earning the hatred of much of the world. All of this culminated in an act of betrayal and cowardice that would lock the Cold War into place for decades to come. Anderson brings to the telling of this story all the narrative brio, deep research, skeptical eye, and lively prose that made LAWRENCE IN ARABIA a major international bestseller. The intertwined lives of these men began in a common purpose of defending freedom, but the ravages of the Cold War led them to different fates. Two would quit the CIA in despair, stricken by the moral compromises they had to make; one became the archetype of the duplicitous and destructive American spy; and one would be so heartbroken he would take his own life. THE QUIET AMERICANS is the story of these four men. It is also the story of how the United States, at the very pinnacle of its power, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory".--

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