Weiner has done some excellent research. He is an excellent writer who can create a very compelling story. I have read this in print as well as listened to the audio version. What troubles me with this book is that despite his claim that his book represents only the truth he expresses his opinions of motivations, something that cannot be called fact. These are interspersed in the text in places where they seem to flow in the narrative in a way that makes them seem to be as truthful as the actual facts surrounding them.
I am no fan of the New York Times or its version of truth. Unfortunately, Weiner allows his association with that paper and its editorial viewpoint which flavors its own reporting to affect his writing.
This is still an excellent history, but one must listen very carefully so as not to be drawn into opinions which are not necessarily supported by the facts in which they are embedded.
Avid listener of information that defines what a mess individuals have made of society, humanity and the planet itself.
The book does a good job of describing an agency that perpetuated its existence with lies and deception - which is what they are all about in the first place anyway. The fact that the author glances over the Kennedy assassinations and misrepresents the Iran hostage crisis as something other than the CIA making a deal to keep them in captivity to ensure the election of their old boss (Bush) as Vice President makes you wonder where do the lies and deception in the book itself begin and end. The sad fact is that this country was taken down the wrong path time and again and no one had to pay the price - just like what is happening in Washington today.
I thought this was a good book. Many interesting things are discussed in the book and many of the things I learned from this book, gave me some interesting perspectives and thoughts on management. The problem I had with this book was that I found myself continuously distracted and unable to focus. I think it's the narrator. He's okay, but a little monotone and it takes a little bit off the experience.
A transplanted Englishman, I spend my time on biography, history and military books. I appreciate good English and good narration.
This is well written, well narrated book and the subject matter is interesting from several points of view: knowledge of how the CIA was created; how it works; who does the work; the events in which they have been involved; how Washington uses the Agency; the characters who built the CIA; the inner machinery of foreign governments, the coups d'etat and the assasinjmations of heads of state.
So why only 3 Stars? The Author allows his basic perspective to percolate his position; everything the CIA does is described as a disaster. Sure, there have been mistakes, ad management, political intrigue and dipomatic bungles. But this is tough work and is done by brave men and women who have given their lives for the US, in may cases.
Tim Weiner's incessant whining and deprecation of their efforts becomes exhausting, even objectionable, I found myself sifting through the story to get to the facts, for to some extent, these is some good research.
A Legacy of Ashes tells you the bias right from the beginning. The only thing that I think is misleading is that part that says "The History of". I was really hoping for more of an open ended analysis and look into the workings and history of the CIA. Unfortunately this book is really an op-ed about the failings of the Agency. It's very obviously written from the perspective of a reporter, and I got the sense that he was very proud of his connections and reporting that he has done over the years. Unfortunately the writing was very much in the style of whistle blowing and attention grabbing reporting rather than historical analysis.
I'm not saying I disagree with a lot of the conclusions, but I think the book could have been much more nuanced in its look at the CIA. I feel like a lot of the context was absent for the actions of the organizations and people in the book. It's really easy to sit in an ivory tower and look back at the many failings.
Despite all of the bias it still worked as a survey of the failings and scandals that have plagued the Agency. It really is mind boggling all of the ineptitude and botched operations. I really wanted another look at the CIA after reading Charlie Wilson's War which was fairly pro-CIA (at least pro to their ideals) and The Looming Tower which was anti-CIA. I'd still recommend this book, but with certain misgivings towards the author's blatant angle.
An excellent summary of recently released secret documents...but not much more.
This may shed some light on why some countries have a bad opinion of the U.S. To the naysayer I say the whole book cannot be false. This is a good behind the scenes of the politics of the times. I, now 50, do not understand why a country (the U.S.) who believes in freedom would not respect a communist leader elected in free elections.
This book tells us just how lucky this country has been over the past 60+years with a so-called spy agency that couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. It's even more scary to think that our so-called leaders in Washington have been using the CIA for their own political agenda and totally deceiving the American public. Are you surprised? Have they found the WMD's yet? Read the book and find out why they never will.
This book is too long. Because of the length it is rather difficult to follow in short burst listening. Possibly best heard on a looooong trip. Very interesting combination of the spy business and the government with some historical events thrown in.