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Disciples: The World War II Missions of the…
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Disciples: The World War II Missions of the CIA Directors Who Fought for…

by Douglas Waller

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Informative, well-researched book on the Wild Bill Donovan protegees and their exploits during WWII.
Unfortunately, as I was reading this book I listened to a talk by the author on C-span and it colored the rest of the book for me. I did not find him an interesting speaker and he did not have anything to add to what was in the book. ( )
  bogopea | Jan 24, 2016 |
Excellent! It's amazing how history works. Waller covers the history of the CIA through the stories of four of the men who ran it; Allen Dulles, Bill Casey, Bill Colby and Richard Helms. All were proteges of the founder, Wild Bill Donovan. All had their good points, and their faults. Waller explains the early stages of the men's careers, through their leadership, and after they left the agency. The author presents a thorough, very fair, seemingly unbiased, examination of each man. If you read this, you cannot help but come away with a better understanding of why history has played itself out the way that it has. I highly recommend this book.
I received this book from NetGalley, in exchange for a fair review. ( )
  1Randal | Jan 4, 2016 |
This is a difficult book to rate. I have much respect for the time and research that the author put into writing this book, but the execution was problematic for me.

The content is extensive, perhaps too much so for one book. We start with the CIA directors. The first four chapters are early biographies of each of these men, covering their childhoods through to them joining the CIA. We also go back through their family trees, meeting their parents, siblings, and anyone else who might have influenced them early on. From there, we go on to the start of their careers in intelligence and espionage. At this point, we meet countless more players and travel the world with all of them. We follow the timeline of the war, from start to finish, alongside all four men and all of the people with whom they interact.

For the most part, I was overwhelmed rather than intrigued by the sheer volume of content. I felt like a needed a chart to keep track of all the people and their relationships. And, while it's impressive that the author was able to unearth so much detail, from where people sat at meetings to what they wore and ate, the way it was all laid out felt like an information dump. There was no time to explore a specific aspect or feeling before the next activity and new people joined the throng.

The writing style is straightforward and conversational, but feels too much like a recitation of facts. It mostly reads like a dry textbook, rather than narrative nonfiction. I didn't get a real sense of emotion. I was told, at times, how each of these men felt about a certain thing, but I didn't see it or feel it from their perspectives.

This book will have a strong appeal for readers who enjoy meticulously detailed history. Perhaps they are more patient readers than I am.

*I was provided with an e-book copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.* ( )
  Darcia | Dec 19, 2015 |
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"The author of the critically acclaimed bestseller 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's 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, sixties and early seventies. 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"--… (more)

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