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Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by…
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Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (2007)

by Tim Weiner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Solid readable history about the good and bad of the CIA. Mostly the bad and stupid moves they have made over the years. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
Interesting and fairly clear and easy to follow. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Interesting and fairly clear and easy to follow. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This review is actually a comment to another reviewer listed below.

I believe it would be an excellent basis as a major supplementary reading in a political science 101 college class, or a high school AP class....or for one of the Obama girls, as a basis for a chat with their dad. Right now....2015....we have no clear information on ISIS....just as we were surprised by 9/11, Korea, the :unaccompanied minors"....Vietnam.....and of course WMD.....Yes, this is a must read book.

My reading is governed by Atlanta's excellent selections from thrift stores, and I am working through Legacy of Ashes. After all of those bad reviews in Library Thing I was especially pleased to get your detailed comments. Your point that the problem with the CIA is that the focus is not on obtaining information ....duh....but overthrowing governments ...and out Iran debacle is still haunting us these many years later. I would like to know this book is somewhere in the libraries of congressmen and smart interns have taken a look and tabulated these overthrows or would be overthrows.

Repeating, your comments are important. Few of us have the knowledge to effectively criticize this book and you have done an outstanding job.

For the individual looking at LT reviews of Legacy of Ashes, but sure to examine the detailed analysis by gmicksmith listed below.

More reviews

http://intellit.muskingum.edu/alpha_folder/W_folder/weinerlegacy.html ( )
  carterchristian1 | Feb 23, 2015 |
This is a very mixed book. On one hand, it is very-well researched and very easy to read. On the other hand, it is pretty much a hack job on the CIA. That isn't hard to do, but he accentuates the negative aspects and glosses over the rare successes. I enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn't use it as a textbook. It reads like someone with an ax to grind rather than a scholarly book, which is a shame because of the sources he had access to.

His basic point is that CIA has never been any good at its job. He blames this on the extremely vague mission it had, poor leadership and political pressure. He goes leader by leader and basically says what each did wrong. The most alarming parts are from the early Cold War, when he discusses infiltration teams dropped into China or the Soviet Union, all of whom were quickly discovered, which lead to capture and/or death. He goes on to show how different presidents and DCIs worked together or against each other, but rarely to good effect.

Among the frustrating parts of Weiner's omissions is the near-complete lack of discussion of promoting youth groups to fight communism. He only mentions them when the CIA funding is discovered, not mentioning the successes they had before that. He also shows how the CIA was never able to penetrate Moscow, except when he gets to the 1980's and 1990's, he says how the network there fell apart. The problem with his narrative is that it only barely mentioned how such a network was built. He left the impression that the CIA had no assets in Moscow except now one is built and being destroyed by a mole.

Another problem is that he also sometimes talks about individuals in the CIA and sometimes talks about it acting as a unified institution ("the CIA did..."). Grouping it together is convenient and many scholars of international relations have done it when discussing countries, but since he discusses the inner workings of the CIA, it would be much better if he were able (or willing) to say who drafted the briefings for WMD or on Bin Laden rather than falling back on the CIA as a whole and attributing unified motives to its actions.

Even with those problems, it is worth a read. He has lots of good stories and occasional good men who get overridden in a bad system. And the CIA has proven that it was not particularly competent, so this is a good subject for a hatchet job. It isn't comprehensive and it isn't balanced, but it is interesting and informative. Just take it with a grain of salt. ( )
1 vote Scapegoats | Feb 13, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tim Weinerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berg, Corrie van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307389006, Paperback)

With shocking revelations that made headlines in papers across the country, Pulitzer-Prize-winner Tim Weiner gets at the truth behind the CIA and uncovers here why nearly every CIA Director has left the agency in worse shape than when he found it; and how these profound failures jeopardize our national security.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Traces the history of the CIA, drawing on thousands of documents to explore how the agency was created, why it has so often failed in its missions, how it is viewed by Americans and the rest of the world, and other related topics.

» see all 5 descriptions

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Editions: 0141033169, 0241956234

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