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Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence Hardcover – 6 Feb 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd edition (6 Feb. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300074743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300074741
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.5 x 3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,369,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rhodri Jeffrey-Jones was born in Carmarthen in Wales and studied at the Universities of Aberystwyth, Michigan and Harvard before obtaining his Ph.D. from Cambridge University. He was a free speech and anti-apartheid advocate, engaged in radio and TV broadcasting, endured a brief political career and played rugby before settling into an American History post at the University of Edinburgh, where he is now an emeritus professor. His latest books are "In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence" (Oxford University Press, June 2013) and "The American Left: Its Impact on Politics and Society since 1900" (Edinburgh and [in the USA] Oxford University Presses, winner of the UK American Politics Group's Neustadt Prize for the best book on US politics published in 2013).

Product Description


"A uniquely personal, scathing, and surprising interpretation of American spy agencies..." -- Richard Gid Powers

"Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones is a leading authority on American espionage. He has a remarkable range, and this is his crowning achievement." -- Robin W. Winks

About the Author

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones is professor of American history at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of numerous books, including The CIA and American Democracy (0 300 07737 8, pb. [pound]12.95), and Peace Now! American Society and the Ending of the Vietnam War (0 300 08920 1, pb. [pound]12.50), both published by Yale University Press.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
embarrassment for Yale University Press 28 Feb. 2011
By W. Frederick Zimmerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the other reviews agree with my estimation, which is that this is a superficially researched, ahistoric polemic. There are a few nuggets of interest here, and the overall thesis -- beware of entrepreneurial confidence men -- is not a bad one, even though it is drowned out by modern bureaucracy, applies in all walks of life and applies just as well to Julian Assange as to the Iraq WMD's "Curveball." But really, not up to the standards of Yale University Press.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sloppy Research 30 April 2009
By Alexander Rea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I consulted this book to see what this British author had to say about Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the forerunner of the Secret Service during the U.S. Civil War. The author's brief account of Pinkerton's "Molly Maguires" investigation was shockingly inaccurate and misleading. This book is an embarrassment for Yale University Press.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Amazingly bad 25 Nov. 2004
By Roberto Macías - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As I've mentioned in other books, the secret services history is far from simple. The author manages to make it unnerving to read. Not because of facts presented but because there's no sequence, no effort to write the book adequately. He goes un using exaggerted words, which come out of context with the book.

It is as if a highschool student wanted to make a display of his extense vocabulary, grabbed words out of a dictionary and made a great example of not knowing how to use them. The book is also too opinionated. It is leading you to the author's opinion, he leads on a battle without backing, to direct you to think that secret services are over funded, still filled with a seemingly patriotic belief in their good intentions.

On the whole, the author set on an ambitious idea of writing a book, tried to fit anectotic facts with hard history and set his opinions, and managed to make a hideous menage. There are better books on the subject, and I wouldn't recommend it.
Poorly written, poorly edited 28 Oct. 2006
By Abu Amaal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The other customer reviews capture the weaknesses of the book. I would only add that a review laying out these weaknesses at greater length and with more precision was published by Piero Gleijeses in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 34, #3. A brief extract:

"Cloak and Dollar adds virtually nothing to our previous knowledge of the CIA, and, worse,

it is riddled with old chestnuts and misleading statements. It is, almost invariably, shallow."

As he indicates, the problem does not lie with the central theses of the book, which are quite reasonable. But the research is uneven at best, and the presentation surprisingly weak on a number of levels. Gleijeses recommends Evan Thomas' The Very Best Men, which I have not read myself.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Poorly written, spin-o-rama, but some interesting stories here 21 May 2006
By Kathy F. Cannata - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I agree with the first three reviews -- very poorly written.

But a bigger problem is the amazing spin he puts on every event. He is incapable of any charity toward those he dislikes (mostly modern conservatives). For example, he makes no effort to mask his utter disgust for Bill Casey and the Reagan administration. This is fine, but it probably explains his unfounded conclusions about them. Casey started talking back in the early 1980s about American intelligence needing to target groups besides the Soviets, as new enemies were emerging. Instead of crediting Casey for being a visionary, Jeffrey-Jones dismisses this as a cynical attempt at job security, knowing that the Soviet Empire was near collapse. Never mind that virtually no one expected the Soviet downfall even when it happened 6 or 8 years later.

Similarly, Jeffrey-Jones makes general statements without supporting evidence -- the US supposedly pumped huge amounts of money buying up the French news media to counter the rise of the French Left, supported Corsican gangsters, etc. In the end, J-J claims, the French Left failed, not because of such sinister American tactics, though, but the conservativism of the French people. (see p. 156). No evidence for this is presented, no figures or footnotes for the wild claims made etc.

J-J is anecdotal, sensational, imbalanced. And yet, there are some great stories imbedded in all the propoganda and hyperbole. The stuff on George Washington (whom J-J admires) is wonderful.

If you read this book for the stories, just do it with alot of salt.
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