As a World War II commando, a Cold War spy, and CIA director under Presidents Nixon and Ford, William Egan Colby played a critical role in some of the most pivotal events of the twentieth century. A quintessential member of the greatest generation, Colby embodied the moral and strategic ambiguities of the postwar world, and confronted many of the dilemmas about power and secrecy that America still grapples with today.
In Shadow Warrior, eminent historian Randall B. Woods riveting biography of Colby, he reveals that this crusader for global democracy was also drawn to the darker side of American power. Colby joined the U.S. Army in 1941, just as America entered World War II, serving with distinction in France and Norway. At the end of the war he transitioned into America's first peacetime intelligence agency: the CIA. Fresh from fighting fascism, Colby zealously redirected his efforts against international communism. He insisted on the importance of fighting communism on the ground, doggedly applying guerilla tactics for counterinsurgency, sabotage, surveillance, and information-gathering - the new battlefields of the Cold War. Over time, these strategies became increasingly ruthless; as head of the CIA's Far East Division, Colby oversaw an endless succession of assassination attempts, coups, secret wars in Laos and Cambodia, and the Phoenix Program, in which 20,000 civilian supporters of the Vietcong were killed. Colby ultimately came clean about many of the CIA's illegal activities, making public a set of internal reports known as the "family jewels." Ostracized from the intelligence community, he died under suspicious circumstances - a murky ending to a life lived in the shadows.
Drawing on multiple new sources, including interviews with members of Colby's family, Woods has crafted a gripping biography of one of the most fascinating and controversial figures of the twentieth century.
©2013 Randall B. Woods (P)2013 Post Hypnotic Press
I expected more detail on specific missions. Also it's hard to tell fact from fiction. Even so still a little interesting to review post world war 2 history through this career CIA administrators eyes.
the book was good but should have been way more exciting given that it was about William Colby a legend. the book wasn't so much about his escapades and time work at the CIA so much as it was a book about his personal life and the politics that followed him around
Colby led an interesting and unparalleled life and this work does a great job of giving that story a voice. Just when I was tiring of the narrator's voice, he began mimicking Nixon and Kissinger to great effect. A must read for any person interested in the Jedburgs, the other side of the Vietnam conflict, or the strategic levels of counterinsurgency.
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