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Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA | [Tim Weiner]

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA

This is the book the CIA does not want you to read. For the last 60 years, the CIA has maintained a formidable reputation in spite of its terrible record, never disclosing its blunders to the American public. It spun its own truth to the nation while reality lay buried in classified archives. Now, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Tim Weiner offers a stunning indictment of the CIA, a deeply flawed organization that has never deserved America's confidence.
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Publisher's Summary

This is the book the CIA does not want you to read. For the last 60 years, the CIA has maintained a formidable reputation in spite of its terrible record, never disclosing its blunders to the American public. It spun its own truth to the nation while reality lay buried in classified archives. Now, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Tim Weiner offers a stunning indictment of the CIA, a deeply flawed organization that has never deserved America's confidence.

Legacy of Ashes is based on more than 50,000 documents, primarily from the archives of the CIA. Everything is on the record. There are no anonymous sources, no blind quotations. With shocking revelations that will make headlines, Tim Weiner gets at the truth and tells us how the CIA's failures have profoundly jeopardized our national security.

©2007 Tim Weiner; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Absorbing...a credible and damning indictment of American intelligence policy." (Publishers Weekly)
"A timely, immensely readable, and highly critical history of the CIA, culminating with the most recent catastrophic failures in Iraq." (Mark Bowden, author of Blackhawk Down)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Richard Los Angeles, CA, CA, USA 11-04-08
    Richard Los Angeles, CA, CA, USA 11-04-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Legacy of Ashes"

    On the eve of the presidential election I can only wonder if our presidential candidates have read/listened to this book. Whomever wins should be required to become intimately acquainted with this work within the first weeks following the election.

    It came as a bit of a shock to learn that JFK agreed to remove missiles from Turkey as the quid pro quo for the Russian removal of missiles from Cuba!

    I knew that Bobby Kennedy had his fingers in a lot of pies, but not to the extent revealed in this book. It is scary to think that he came close to becoming president.

    This book provides an entirely new perspective on our government in general and the CIA in particular.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Porter Pasadena, CA United States 02-07-08
    Keith Porter Pasadena, CA United States 02-07-08 Member Since 2011
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    "Would the US have been better off without the CIA?"

    An outstanding, thorough, apparently well-supported and fairly balanced overview of the history of the CIA, this book also sheds light on antidemocratic policies and illegal strategies of several US presidents who used and abused the agency. Using recently declassified internal CIA documents and Congressional testimony, the author argues that CIA officials have long exaggerated the agency's accomplishments. In the aftermath of its catastrophes they have asserted that only its few failures are made public, but that supposedly numerous successes can never be known. The author offers convincing evidence that this is a myth--that the agency has had few successes worthy of pride, and that the overwhelming body of its work has been so counterproductive that the reader ends up feeling the US would have been better off had the CIA never been formed. The reasons are partly structural--the nature of the agency, how it is funded and overseen--and partly driven by the personalities and capabilities of its leadership. The book is well complemented by John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which tells a related story about disturbing contributions of the private sector to American foreign policy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Dallas, TX, USA 01-09-08
    Jason Dallas, TX, USA 01-09-08
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    "eye opening"

    Tim Weiner reveals truths about our government, and the CIA in particular, that tie together seemlingly unrelated historical events into a larger portrait of good-intentioned failure on the part of the CIA. Explains a lot about how and why America got involved in Korea, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the bombing of the Cole, 9/11, and the Iraq War. Definitely recommend.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerald Willow Grove, PA, United States 08-23-07
    Gerald Willow Grove, PA, United States 08-23-07
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    "A surpise!"

    Considering the author's NY Times resume, I was not surprised at the discussion of poor CIA performance under Ike. But when he slammed the Kennedy brothers in a later chapter, I got interested.

    It's an even-handed destruction of the CIA, as we thought it existed. It rings true, to my dismay.

    "Dilbert's World" exists - with real world problems as a result.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Anthem, AZ, United States 02-23-08
    Linda Anthem, AZ, United States 02-23-08
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    "Fascinating; starts slowly"

    Having read great reviews of this on Amazon, I was, at first, a bit disappointed because it started out rather boringly. About half-way through Part 1, it started to deliver on the promise.

    I actually knew about the involvement of the CIA in all the things the author wrote about; however, I didn't know details. Plus, having it all laid out in one document made it all the more disturbing.

    Don't misunderstand; I think we the USA (and every country) needs to have an intelligence agency. I'm not a "wacky liberal" (have never voted anything but Republican, in fact). I'm in no way opposed to intelligence gathering. A government would be negligent not to have such an agency. However, I am opposed to many/most/all covert operations. Firstly, because they are generally immoral and illegal. And second, because of the long term affects. I lived in Central America and know what CIA activities there have done to American prestige and credibility. What it's done in the Mideast has contributed greatly to(I don't say "caused") the problems we have there.

    Finally, it is just plain frightening to know that - excuse me for saying it - but that such stupid people, have held so much unrestrained power.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Phoenix, AZ, USA 11-01-07
    Robert Phoenix, AZ, USA 11-01-07
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    "Proving a point"

    It is obvious with or without reading this book that the CIA has had many failures since it's inception following Truman Doctrine. This book, however, seems to do nothing more than try to prove that the CIA has done nothing right. It is myopic and panders to the nay-sayers and malcontents who cannot help but think that America really is dangerous and stupid. It is not a history lesson, as so many reviewers seem to think. It one man's effort to prove a point by pointing out nothing but mistakes and ignoring anything that might distort his world view.

    If someone were to write a book about you that only pointed out your faults from cover to cover, would the reader have a clear picture of who you are? If you answer "yes" to that question, be sure to get this book.

    I didn't give the book one star because it is well written and thought provoking, even if myopic. Hopefully those who read it will also read other books like Black Swan to delve further into the complexities and dangers of our world.

    28 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Longview, TX, USA 11-26-08
    Jason Longview, TX, USA 11-26-08
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    "Very intresting however a little slanted"

    I highly recommend anyone to read this book. While it is long and admittedly I stopped listening to it for a long time, it has opened my eyes and explained in detail many historic events. While I won't give anything away in the book, I am quite honestly surprised the CIA didn't start us a war with a few nations due to failed or exposed CIA missions. But who knows, they could have and it could still be classified.

    I will say that the author seems to be slanted in his views. He seems to pull out and explain many many failed missions he doesn't go into as much detail in the missions that were a success. Successful missions he lists and explains seem less than what you can count on two hands. I find it hard to believe the CIA has been that ineffective. CIA is no James Bond but if they were truly that unsuccessful then they would have been abolished long ago.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Washington, DC, United States 05-06-08
    David Washington, DC, United States 05-06-08 Member Since 2013
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    "An Amazingly Comprehensive Indictment"

    This book is a surprisingly refreshing look at the often revered American intelligence community. It's non-partisan and thoughtful insight into the history of the CIA is an must listen for anyone who cares about the future of the United States.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shamu from New York New York 06-09-12
    Shamu from New York New York 06-09-12 Member Since 2012

    Interests in Design/Engineering, Architecture, & History

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    "it won a pulitzer...."

    Ok, so it won a Pulitzer. The research is there, no doubt. Very good job doing the research. However, note that the title is "Legacy of Ashes" - it's got an angle from the very beginning, and the book sets out to substantiate this opinion. The books swings from epic failure to epic failure, and even if there is a successful mission, the moral burden and the consequences are presented in a way that even successes can be perceived as failures in their own way.

    I am far from a CIA basher, but I find that even though and even if all the content is correct, I'm somehow being fed a cynic's presentation and negative viewpoint.

    The narrator's voice gets droning after a while.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sfds Fjklj Oak Creek, WI United States 02-06-10
    Sfds Fjklj Oak Creek, WI United States 02-06-10 Member Since 2008

    McQ

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    "Excellent Book"

    As a 35 year-old reading this book, I found it fascinating learning about what happened in the inner workings of the CIA before I was born. Some of what you read hear contradicts what you learned in school, other tales are just simply unbelievable. This book shows you what we are capable of doing in the name of freedom.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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