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The Quiet Americans

Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War

May 25, 2021 | Trade paperback
ISBN: 9780771009167
$24.95
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Description

From the bestselling author of Lawrence in Arabia, a gripping history of the early years of the Cold War, the CIA's covert battles against communism, and the tragic consequences which still affect the world today

In the aftermath of WWII, the mandate of the newly formed CIA was to protect democracy around the world from the Soviet Union's brutal authoritarianism. But as the Cold War escalated, American leaders succumbed to an ideological rigidity that sought to defeat the Soviets at any cost--including toppling democratically-elected governments and earning much of the world's hatred.

Internationally bestselling author Scott Anderson examines this fall from grace through the riveting 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. Initially driven by the principle of defending democracy, they came to be thwarted by malfeasance at the highest-levels of government. The Quiet Americans is the story of these four men, and how the United States, at the very pinnacle of its power, abandoned its ideals and managed to permanently damage its moral standing in the world.

About this Author

SCOTT ANDERSON is the author of two novels and four works of nonfiction, including Lawrence in Arabia, an international bestseller which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable
Book. A veteran war correspondent, he writes frequently for the New York Times Magazine.

ISBN: 9780771009167
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 608
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Published: 2021-05-25

Reviews

"[An] enthralling new history of early Cold War espionage . . . . The climate of fear and intolerance that it describes in Washington . . . feels uncomfortably timely." --Kevin Peraino, New York Times Book Review

"Undeniably well-told and vivid. . . the personal reflections of people like Sichel give [The Quiet Americans] a granular, first-person quality lacking in other critical histories of the agency."--Greg Barnhisel, Critical Mass

"Absorbing. . . . Masterful. . . . The Quiet Americans is more than a real-life le Carré tale. By focusing on the post-World War II period and the critical early days of the Cold War, Anderson's story raises questions about the rise of American empire and how the trajectory of the 20th and 21st century could have looked so much differently."--Andy Kroll, Rolling Stone

"Skillful and fascinating. . . . Reading The Quiet Americans often feels like listening to an old military or journalistic pal sharing war stories over drinks."--Edward Kosner, Wall Street Journal

"Scott Anderson thrillingly juxtaposes the politics of the era with the covert operation side of four agents on the ground."--Tome Temin, Federal News Network
"A story at once sweeping in its scope and fascinating in its particulars." --Beverly Gage, Washington Post

"A darkly entertaining tale about American espionage, set in an era when Washington's fear and skepticism about the agency resembles our climate today." --New York Times
 
"This intriguing book is an indictment. From its first page it argues that the CIA lost its way, in all senses, in the first decade of the cold war. Its witnesses are four courageous and initially idealistic patriots. Frank Wisner oversaw some of the earliest efforts to "roll back" communism in Europe. Michael Burke was a daredevil figure in the same game. Edward Lansdale was an éminence grise in the Far East. Peter Sichel, a German-born Jewish wine-merchant and Wunderkind--and the only one of the four still alive--held his nose as he co-opted former Nazis into the agency, an initiative cited as one of its original sins....Many of the CIA's failures stemmed from familiar shortcomings. 'We all have this tendency to look for information that confirms our beliefs and to ignore what conflicts with them," explains Mr Sichel. "It's very hard to give somebody information he doesn't want to hear, and the more senior they are, the worse it is'" -- The Economist
 
"In this sweeping, vivid, beautifully observed book, Scott Anderson unearths the devastating secret history of how the United States lost the plot during the Cold War. By focusing on the twisty, colorful lives of four legendary spies, Anderson distills the larger geopolitical saga into an intimate story of flawed but talented men, of the 'disease of empires,' and of the inescapable moral hazard of American idealism and power. It's a hell of a book, with themes about the unintended consequences of espionage and interventionism that still resonate, powerfully, today." --Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Say Nothing
 
"Anderson delivers a complex, massively scaled narrative, balancing prodigious research with riveting storytelling skills. . . . Over the course of the narrative, the author amply shows how the CIA was increasingly pushed to function as an instrument of politically charged ambitions. An engrossing history of the early days of the CIA." --Kirkus (starred review)
 
"Laced with vivid character sketches and vital insights into the 20th-century geopolitics, this stand-out chronicle helps to make sense of the world today." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
"Anderson weaves his narrative among the lives of his subjects, highlighting aspects of their livelihoods as American spies that were at times equally frustrating, ridiculous, and chillingly dangerous. . . . A fascinating and compulsively readable account of wartime spying." --Library Journal

 
 

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