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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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  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 07-18-08
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 07-18-08 Member Since 2002

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Flawed but Important"

    This book should be read by anyone interested in the history of the CIA. I have rated this five stars, but this is not the perfect book, just a must read. The author clearly focuses only upon the failures of the CIA and glosses over any successes. Nevertheless, there is substantial value is focusing on failures (of course there is also value is focusing on successes, but that would be a different book). This book also does not seem to go out of its way to suggest tangible changes to improve the CIA.

    The material is somewhat dry, and there is some jumping around. The narration is quite good, which helps keep the book interesting. This is not the best book about the CIA, but it is an indispensable viewpoint for anyone who wants to understand the agency.

    41 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas mission viejo, CA, USA 08-04-07
    Douglas mission viejo, CA, USA 08-04-07 Member Since 2003
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    "Frightening"

    This is a wonderfully written disturbing history of the CIA. I finished this book wondering if the CIA represents the inevitable malfunction of all government bureaucracies, or specific to an American spy agency. I fear the former, and am left with grave concern that intelligence can act intelligently.

    26 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim 08-23-07
    Jim 08-23-07 Member Since 2006
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    "A Must Read/Listen"

    This is by far the most informative book I have read or listen to for the real details of the CIA. The book does not have an agenda but one gets the sense the author does respect the employees who have put their lives on the line as well as those who daily attempted to protect this country.

    This book is aimed at the leadership of the agency for the history of the CIA AND our leaders who we have voted for to guide this country. The book is based on documents, interviews and not a personal bias from the author. What the facts are based on is what is so scary, I have become very skeptical about the agency.

    I have always defended the agency and assumed that the government (aka CIA)did what it had too do to keep us safe. This book reveals personal agendas by those in power who wanted revenge for the several defeats we as a county have had, even when it is described as less than a defeat.

    It is a long book (21 hours) but well worth the time. For those who still have 9/11 burned into your memories, the story behind the story told in this book will leave you very upset.

    I have listen to THE COMPANY and CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, both relating to the CIA and the abuse of power by those in our government but LEGACY OF ASHES is the best.

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Bozeman Knoxville, Tennessee 02-02-10
    B. Bozeman Knoxville, Tennessee 02-02-10 Member Since 2008

    Driving over 100,000 mile a year since 1983, I got hooked on audible books on tape 30 years back. I now listen from my bicycle 2 hours a day

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Frightening Ineptitude"

    Not the whole truth but it is nothing but the truth.
    And the truth is hard to take if you thought the CIA was competent and effective. I have now listened through Legacy twice because there is so much information and it is so important to understanding our history. It is a wonder we survived Allen Dulles and the disaster that was the CIA. The CIA told JFK there were only 20 percent of the Soviet and Cuban troops that actually were on hand in the march to the Bay of Pigs disaster. JFK did not survive their ineptitude. If you had any respect for the CIA this book will destroy it completely.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Apex, NC, United States 12-21-07
    Karen Apex, NC, United States 12-21-07 Member Since 2001

    I write my reviews under my wife Karen's account. Retired USN Russian linguist/analyst; actor; director; producer. Biography & History focus

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Spot On!"

    Having a background with the intelligence services of this country I wish I could say that the revelations included in this book are complete. This is not so, there are many, many more examples that remain classified and may never see the light of public scrutiny. This book is important not just because it gives the American public a look at several specific instances of ineptitude, poor analysis and politically driven intelligence reporting, but because it also explains our intelligence gathering and reporting culture and suggests reasons why our current intelligence apparatus fails...and will continue to do so.

    This is a well written book that not only reports startling mediocrity but also explains why the CIA (and also DIA & NSA) has such problems gathering, analyzing and reporting its intel. The narration is good (I would rather have Grover Gardiner or Scott Brick narrate), the writing clear, the production quality high. Highly recommended.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frances Del Rio, TX, United States 07-26-07
    Frances Del Rio, TX, United States 07-26-07 Member Since 2007
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    "Enlighting"

    This book is a must read for anyone who wants to
    understand the global unheaval of the present time and why we have engendered such animosity
    from the rest of the world.The CIA was created to prevent "another Pearl Harbor" and as we see it
    failed. The best description of it's problems were
    best stated in a recent Newsweek article. Though not referring to the CIA the words are right on.
    " The magnitute of errors perputated by the agency
    -ignorance,incompetence,arrogance,bad or non-existant planning, cronyism and naivete'-can make you weep with anger." Though these words were used
    to describe an administration they also very well describe the agencey's track record. The agency's leadership was composed of alcholics,
    mental cases,egomanics and a lot of good people
    beating their heads against a bureaucratic brick wall. The book has been described as very critical of the CIA. I found it to be a very
    evenly narrated series of events that just left
    me very sad.

    31 of 34 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 03-29-09
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 03-29-09 Member Since 2008

    Audiobook addict.

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    "Extensive and Excellent"

    This is one of the most complete histories of the CIA I have encountered. It is incredibly detailed and yet still managed to hold my attention all the way through.

    A number of interesting threads weave through this history. One is the massive shifts between a dangerous lack of oversight and a devastating lack of independence of the Agency. Another is the shameful misuse of this intelligence tool as doctrinal and political hammer, instead of a gatherer and analyzer of information.

    The author cleverly paints a portrait of a governmental entity so badly structured at its core, that it leaves the reader wondering if any amount of restructuring could ever remedy some of the most basic flaws of its architecture.

    The choice of reader was perfect for this book. Understated, clear-spoken and precise.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger 04-15-08
    Roger 04-15-08 Member Since 2007
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    "A little jumpy"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this work.

    Thorough is the key word here and the author treats all the CIA's misdeeds thoroughly. Clearly, in the author's opinion there are very few CIA success stories to relate. It is a long book and at times it became a bit tedious - still worthwhile.

    My one complaint would be (as another reviewer mentioned) that the author has a tendency to jump from one event to another - both temporally and geographically. This can be confusing as a listener unless you are paying very close attention. Even then, it can catch you off guard.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig C. austin, TX United States 06-18-09
    Craig C. austin, TX United States 06-18-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Compelling"

    Excellent history, profoundly important because of the nature of undercover operations. Shows the limits of such activity which seems to ensure blowback and unintended consequences.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia M. Simmons 12-06-08 Member Since 2008

    Cindy

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    "Be Careful to Understand"

    I'm fairly new to audiobooks, having listened to 8 or so. I've generally relied on reviews for the selection process and have not been disappointed until this selection. I don't usually participate in the review process that is so prevalent in the connected world but I felt strongly enough about my disappointment with this book to say something.

    I have to assume the facts and details covered in the book are true. I'd like to assume that the facts and details were fairly presented but the fact that I say this is a clue to the one suspicion that I have.

    The book is amazingly well researched. The detail is overwhelming. The research had to have been exhausting. But the basic issue I have is can it be true that the CIA has been as consistently screwed up as depicted?..that the author couldn't come up with one or two situations where the CIA had a successful outcome? Life tells you that just by chance you succeed at something just because things go your way and you fall into a bed of roses. It's the antithesis to the overachiever that stumbles once in awhile. To hear one shortcoming after another for an agency of the government that has generally been viewed as the leader of the free world over the past 80 years starts to sound a little unbelievable. In my opinion the balance just wasn't there. If no balance, or attempt at balance, it doesn't ring true.

    When you drive along listening to an audiobook and you realize that you were daydreaming the last 5 minutes and not listening to the book...

    34 of 41 people found this review helpful
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