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Publisher's Summary

During the early and most dangerous years of the cold war, a handful of Americans, led by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, revolutionized spying and warfare. In great secrecy and beyond the prying eyes of Congress and the press, they built exotic new machines that opened up the Soviet Union to surveillance and protected the United States from surprise nuclear attack. Secret Empire is the dramatic story of these men and their inventions, told in full for the first time.
©2003 Philip Taubman; (P)2003 Tantor Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"In this exciting, meticulously researched spy story, Taubman takes readers behind the closed doors of the Eisenhower administration to tell about the small group of Cold Warriors whose technological innovations...revolutionized espionage and intelligence gathering." (Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

More people should know what Ike accomplished.

Liked it. Eisenhower has been written in the history books as a post WWII General/President that isn't known for much social change. This book casts light on his focus on intellegence and building the mechanisms to gather it.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fascinating

As a student of pre-modern history (pre-Renaissance), I usually have little interest in this period or genre of history as it is usually tainted by politics and the shortsightedness of having been so recent. However, this history is one of the most fascinating histories I have read or listened to.

I was taught that the Eisenhower years were a kind of "Howdie Doodie", "Happy Days" world where Ike went golfing and the world was all rosey. Not true--Ike and his administration had to fight a very hard and dangerous world during the Cold War. It is remarkable that they of this time kept is so isolated to the average American.

Here is a story of how we brought technology to espionage in a very heightened way. This is a story of unsung heroes and geniuses and gutsy men who protected us from a very real threat, both real and apparent.

Normally, a history with so much sci-tech as its backbone would be rather specialized and boring; this one is not. The technical problems to be solved were significant and very difficult. There is a lot of spine in this book

This story needs to be told.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Martin
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 12-03-05

Solid and Enjoyable Cold War History

This is an interesting and balanced account of US espionage and reconnaissance efforts during the first part of the Cold War. The author mixes the personal stories and anecdotes of the people who built the U2 and the Corona satellites with a wealth of interesting technical detail and a solid account of the larger Cold War context. Eisenhower is well drawn and impressive. His concern about needless escalation and provocation shames his more militant advisors and generals and may have prevented a nuclear war.

This book is likely to be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the Cold War and the technology of reconnaissance.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good Listen

I thought this was a good book overall. There is some times to where the history jumps around and leaves you unsure of the date they are talking about. I would recommend this book and I'm glad I got to listen to it. Very good overview of the spy history. If you like the U2 story and the spy satellites you will enjoy this.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Cold War history!

What did you love best about Secret Empire?

I was in the USAF and worked on nuclear missile sites in the 70's. It's nice to finally learn some of the cold war history that led up to what I did. Unfortunately several projects were only mentioned in passing that I would have LOVED to hear more history on.

What did you like best about this story?

The behind the scenes insight into the new technology.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It wasn't that sort of story.

Any additional comments?

I like Michael Pritchard as a narrator. He did a lot of the Tom Clancy stories and I liked every one he did. On this one I could hear him breathing in after every sentence. Yes, a small thing but it was a constant annoyance. But as far as his narration, it was as good as ever. Just sit a bit farther back from the mic dude.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • John
  • Duluth, GA, United States
  • 08-20-12

Edward Land Develops The CIA

Would you consider the audio edition of Secret Empire to be better than the print version?

Unknown

What did you like best about this story?

The involvement of Edward Land with the CIA and President Eisenhower.

What does Michael Prichard bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I rarely read books any longer but I did like his reading.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was surprised about what went on behind the scenes in the 50's regarding our intelligence efforts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not about Eisenhower

I was looking for a book on Ike. The tech stuff was interesting but not really much news

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Megan
  • Quincy, CA, USA
  • 11-08-09

The Bloodless War

This book gives great insight into the start of the US reconnaisance satellite program, as well as the key players in its beginning. With great detail into the technical obstacles to be overcome when trying to create something that has never been built before, this book also highlights tension created within the intelligence community, Washington, and Moscow.

I would recommend this book to anybody with an interest in intelligence, satellites, or the Cold War.

  • Overall

Excellent

Excellent book and reading; great companion for those long commutes

  • Overall
  • Shawn
  • aurora, ON, Canada
  • 02-07-06

more technical than political

I felt this book was incorrectly named. It should've been called: "The making of the U2 and other spy satellites." For those of you looking for information regarding Eisenhower and his approach to the Cold War and espionage this is not the book. His role is merely sketched out while the details of how they made the various pieces of technology to carry out spy operations was fleshed out to a level of detail that was frankly boring. There should have been more information on cabinet meetings or a more detailed analysis on how the administration dealt with the lack of information about the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, instead of looking at the big picture, the book focused on minutia. Endless minutes were given to descriptions of how they purchased various pieces of technology and the difficulties in creating new optical systems for spy satellites. For the most part Eisenhower was portrayed as simply giving the OK for various projects. In only small sections of the book does it provide a little detail on how he grappled with the actual results of espionage. I found the book truly disappointing.

4 of 11 people found this review helpful