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

por Scott Anderson

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The four principals the author traces are augmented by the well developed additional persons, some admirable and others nearly inept together demonstrate a coherent description of history.
The Cold War was replete with missed opportunities and fortunate happenstance as well as the accomplishments by dedicated and thoughtful warriors. Planning and circumstances coincide in a well described book. Criticism of poor decisions and missed opportunities are as well supported as the recounting of events, judgments, and thought process.
The story-telling flows, interweaving events with analysis, is top flight history that shows how indispensable individuals are as events evolve into history as well as future consequences. ( )
  grimmerlaw | Jul 11, 2021 |
Thomas Fowler, the narrator of Greene's The Quiet American is one of the outstanding characters of literature. When I finished the novel, I was left with a pang of regret that never would I meet him again. As for Alden Pyle, the eponymous, quiet American, he is important only as an emblem of America abroad.
The portrait Greene paints of Vietnam in the late fifties in the midst of the First Indochina War is vivid and heart-rending.
  RonWelton | May 31, 2021 |
I love anything having to do with spies, but this is not a romanticized foray - neither was Anderson's _Lawrence in Arabia_. They are both well researched and minutely detailed.

This is a personal and fascinating exploration of the Cold War - its origins and the nexus of its failure in light of mistakes made by the USA (and the UK) up through and following WW2. Focusing on the lives of four spies in the thick of things, helps shed light on how much CIA policy was driven by a select few personalities. Found to be especially culpable in this story are Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover (FBI), the two Dulles brothers, and President Eisenhower. The book is a blistering critique of the USA's obsession with trying to root out Communism in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. In its effort the USA, did more harm than good and we see the lives of these four men destroyed in the resulting aftermath. A fascinating exploration into the tragic genesis of America's adventures in interventionism, this book often reads like an exciting spy novel. ( )
  dbsovereign | Dec 26, 2020 |
The early days of the CIA are fascinating in many ways. First, how the Soviets -- our ally in WWII -- quickly became our number one enemy in a cold war. Secondly, how miserably the US did in recruiting and placing spies in eastern Europe and North Korea -- most of whom were quickly captured and killed. And thirdly, how presidents, from Truman forward were obsessed with not letting communism flourish on their watch -- leading to many bad decisions to support tyrants just because they were anti-communistic. This book covers the early days of 4 spies, from how they were recruited, to their important assignments, and finally to how they finished their careers. Good information on how the US failed to support Hungary in its desperate attempt to free itself from the Soviets. A solid read, but too much detail for me. I recommend Legacy of Ashes by Timothy Weiner for a broad history of the CIA. ( )
1 vota exfed | Nov 18, 2020 |
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