Brad Feld

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Book Review – Legacy of Ashes

Jan 01, 2008
Category Books

My last book of 2007 was Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, one of the CIA books recommended in the comments of my post History of the CIA.  I read it on my Kindle, which I love.

I’ve read a lot of books in my life.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that was as profoundly negative and damning on any organization.  The author – Tim Weiner – is a well regarded Pulitzer Prize-winner New York Times correspondent so this book is the real deal.

Weiner approaches this as a pure history book.  He starts at the beginning and marches all the way through to the end without slowing his pace at any point.  In addition to the endless stream of people involved, he covers in depth a number of the major CIA initiatives over the years, the vast majority of them ranging from "botched" to "debacle."  Along the way he lists the ever escalating number of people, dollars, and deaths that result.

I don’t think I really know how to lie or be deceitful.  I like to think my parents did a great job with me on that front.  I value honesty, directness, and forthrightness.  I even feel compelled to correct myself when I’m wrong (which happens often.)  I’m cynical about plenty of things, including government and religion, and often feel that many political leaders are fundamentally not trustworthy.  Legacy of Ashes beats you over the head with this message – over and over again.

This is a chewy and long but if you are looking for an exhaustive, comprehensively researched, and completely negative view of the history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes is the one for you.

Now for some mental floss via David Balducci to clean the mind as we start the 2008 reading list.