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Body of Secrets Hardcover – 17 May 2001


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 740 pages
  • Publisher: Century; First Edition edition (17 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712675981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712675987
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 649,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

James Bamford's explosive book, Body of Secrets, not only lifts the lid on the world's most powerful intelligence agency, but warns that it is a double-edged sword. Everybody knows about the CIA--the cloak-and-dagger branch o f the US government. Many fewer are familiar with the National Security Agency, even though it has been more important to American espionage in recent years than its better-known counterpart. The NSA is responsible for much of the intelligence gathering done via technology such as satellites and the Internet. Its home office in Maryland "contains what is probably the largest body of secrets ever created".

Little was known about the agency's confidential culture until veteran journalist James Bamford blew the lid off in 1982 with his bestseller The Puzzle Palace. Still, much remained in the shadows. In Body of Secrets, Bamford throws much more light on his subject--and he reveals loads of shocking information. The story of the U-2 crisis in 1960 is well known, including President Eisenhower's decision to tell a fib to the public in order to protect a national-security secret. Bamford takes the story a disturbing step forward, showing how Eisenhower "went so far as to order his Cabinet officers to hide his involvement in the scandal eve n while under oath. At least one Cabinet member directly lied to the committee, a fact known to Eisenhower". Even more worrisome is another revelation, from the Kennedy years: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the US government. In the name of anticommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba."

Body of Secrets is an incredible piece of journalism, and it paints a deeply troubling portrait of an agency about which the public knows next to nothing. Fans of The Sword and the Shield will want to read it, as will anybody who is intrigued by conspiracies and real-life spy stories. --John J. Miller

Review

‘Bamford has managed…to unearth one major scandal of international dimensions’ -- Literary Review

‘…paced like a Forsyth thriller.’ -- Manchester Evening News --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Sept. 2001
Format: Hardcover
A book like Body of Secrets is impossible to rate accurately this soon after publication. If its claims were all true, it would deserve beyond five stars. If its claims were all untrue, it would not deserve one star. With so many sensational claims, surely the truth lies somewhere in between. But where? On the one hand, I don't know. On the other hand, I sure would like to know. These allegations are so serious that they demand verification or refutation by objective parties. To properly reflect my ignorance, I have split the difference and given the book three stars. The only thing I know for sure is that this is the wrong rating for the book. I apologize to the author and to readers for my inability to do better.
From the book's title, a reader might imagine that the subject is a history of the National Security Agency (often referred to as "No Such Agency"). This organization provides the bulk of signal and electronic intelligence gathering and code breaking for the United States.
I was attracted to the book because I love reading about how codes are broken and countermeasures developed. Well, there's almost nothing about the details of either subject here. But the book got off to a fast start for me by identifying that the United States had a commanding edge in code breaking between 1945 and 1948 due to piggy backing on the expertise of captured Germans who had broken the main Soviet codes and those of many other countries. In many other places in the book, there are excellent descriptions of how technology was used to capture electronic information and the locations of defensive bases in the former Soviet Union.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
A book like Body of Secrets is impossible to rate accurately this soon after publication. If its claims were all true, it would deserve beyond five stars. If its claims were all untrue, it would not deserve one star. With so many sensational claims, surely the truth lies somewhere in between. But where? On the one hand, I don't know. On the other hand, I sure would like to know. These allegations are so serious that they demand verification or refutation by objective parties. To properly reflect my ignorance, I have split the difference and given the book three stars. The only thing I know for sure is that this is the wrong rating for the book. I apologize to the author and to readers for my inability to do better.
From the book's title, a reader might imagine that the subject is a history of the National Security Agency (often referred to as "No Such Agency"). This organization provides the bulk of signal and electronic intelligence gathering and code breaking for the United States.
I was attracted to the book because I love reading about how codes are broken and countermeasures developed. Well, there's almost nothing about the details of either subject here. But the book got off to a fast start for me by identifying that the United States had a commanding edge in code breaking between 1945 and 1948 due to piggy backing on the expertise of captured Germans who had broken the main Soviet codes and those of many other countries. In many other places in the book, there are excellent descriptions of how technology was used to capture electronic information and the locations of defensive bases in the former Soviet Union.
Read more ›
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert Colvin on 6 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
"Body of Secrets: How America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ Eavesdrop On The World". Really? As a British reader I was interested in how GCHQ operates; you'll learn virtually nothing buying this book! This is essentially a history of the U.S. intelligence services with some passing references to "foreign" agencies such as GCHQ. Don't get me wrong, this is a well researched and interesting book but it isn't what it claims to be. Interestingly the U.S. version of the book is entitled "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency", so it would appear that the U.K. version is simply a re-badged version of this one.
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By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 May 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book explains the functioning of the ultra-secret spy organization, the National Security Agency (NSA = No Such Agency), in a more or less hagiographic way: its enormous budget (equals a Fortune 50 company), its employees (still a shortage of linguists), its recruitment system, its information storage capacity (5 trillion pages, 1.6 million data tapes, of which some are kept eternally), its information gathering (can intercept electronic mail sent by Cisco routers, a former Cisco engineer is an NSA technical advisor), its computer brain.

The author criticizes the NSA for eavesdropping on the international communications of US citizens (already in 1975!) and for spying on US citizens (protests against the Vietnam war).

Its ultra-secrecy can create Kafkaeske situations: an immigrant was arrested and put illegally in solitary confinement for three years without knowing exactly why (the reason was a secret).

The author is heavily critical for the military ('Restless from a decade of peace, out of touch with reality, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were desperate for a war, any war.') and for the Pentagon, because it deceives the public ('trumping up wars for Americans to fight and die was standard, approved policy at the highest levels of the Pentagon.')

These authorities together with intelligence agencies created or proposed to create incidents to provoke war (the Tonkin Gulf incident, the Pueblo affair or operation Northwoods - a proposition to organize a secret campaign of terrorism within the US in order to blame Castro!).

James Bamford's work contains excellent information but it is far too detailed (e.g. the USS Liberty affair) and far too long
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