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Perisco Joseph : Untitled Biography of William J Casey [Paperback]

Joseph Persico


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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read About the REAL Reagan Foreign Policy Force 4 Aug 2004
By ViceroyCM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In November 1980, William J. Casey found himself in the most enviable position of any campaign management professional in history. He had engineered Ronald Reagan's successful campaign for President, taking the reigns of a broken operation and turning into a efficient and disciplined juggernaut. Now, Casey would vet major cabinet and White House senior staff appointments and had such sway over the President-elect that virtually any judgment Casey made was rubber-stamped.

The story of how Casey got to this pinnacle, and the story of his service as Director of Central Intelligence is indeed one for the history books. While Alexander Haig and George Shultz were stewards of Reagan's public foreign policy actions, Casey represented what came to be known as the Reagan Doctrine: arming and funding armed insurrections against global Communist expansionism (most notably in Nicaragua and Afghanistan). In essence Casey represented the real Reagan, the street fighter whose approach to the Soviet Union and its clients -- so eloquently described by Casey protege Herbert Meyer -- was when you see your enemy on his knees it's time to start kicking him in the head.

Persico's judicious, warts and all treatment of Casey describes how a brilliant kid from a working-class family in Queens became Wild Bill Donovan's deputy for secret intelligence operations in World War II; a brilliant corporate attorney, venture capitalist, and technocrat; chairman of the SEC; and the last great buccaneer director of U.S. intelligence.

Through all of this, Casey's good qualities shine: his big heart and willingness to help friends in need at any time, his devout Catholicism and commitment to conservative principles, his abiding love for his wife Sophia, and his absolute patriotism.

Juicy details from inside the Reagan White House will keep the reader riveted. Did you know about the running feud with James Baker, or close bond between Casey and Donald Regan? That William Safire's nickname for Casey was "Big Bill"? Or that Casey saw his next big duty as running Jeanne Kirkpatrick for president?

In a time when intelligence and its practitioners are anemic, Casey's qualities of audacity, skepticism, realpolitik, and American exceptionalism are sorely missed. As a person and a professional, we will not see the like of William J. Casey in this generation.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An informative and balanced look at a controversial American 18 Sep 1999
By Jeffrey W. Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Persico provides a balanced look at the deceased former Director of Central Intelligence. William Casey has served as both a lightning rod for criticism of the Reagan Administration's proactive foreign policy and as a right-wing hero. Unfortunately both of these views display an amazing inability to take into consideration all of the facts. The author presents Casey in an objective light, showing that the former OSS man often did what he felt was right for the country but in a fashion that just as often went outside the rule of law. Most importantly, Persico gives a more balanced and accurate view of Casey's role in the Iran-Contra scandal than the view presented in Bob Woodward's Secret Wars. Anyone interested in the career of one of the most respected and disrespected of America's former spy chiefs is encouraged to read Casey, from the OSS to the CIA.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A LOOK AT THE GRAY AREA 23 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great book that not only documents the life of one of our importatnt leaders but it documents very clearly the thought process used by Casey to find and work his magic in the "gray" areas of politics, business and the law. The book provides insight into the real world of politics from Nixon to Reagan and right through Capitol Hill.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 2 Mar 2004
By Gannon Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is hard-hitting but fair. Casey was a brilliant, albeit, enigmatic and complex man. This books provides a fascinating portrait not only of him, but a template for better understanding the turbulent epoch of the Cold War.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Dichotomy 7 July 2010
By V-ROD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was interested in this book after I had finished a book on Pres.Reagan. In that book I learned Casey had died just as the Iran/Contra congressional probe began. So I was curious to see if this book offered a correlation between his death and the scandal. I found no correlation.
Prior to starting the book I was unbiased about Casey. As I continued to read I found myself not liking the man. The author states in the beginning that Casey is a devout Catholic and an anti-communist. But later I learn Casey is well known to push the law to its limits and seeks to undermine it whenever he deems necessary. He is chairman of the SEC and later becomes the CIA director. And we learn he becomes a mutli-millionare and Congress threatens to investigate his finances. Gee, I wonder if he recieved any insider information as head of the CIA. Congress also votes down a bill financing the contras and yet he does everything to undermine that decision. Consider also, he along with Col. North not only ignore Congress directly, he is indirectly snubbing his nose at the American people.

My dislike for the man may have tainted my impression of this book. But, I do believe the book is not an interesting read, and to be quite honest, I was ready for it to end.
On a positive note, if one wants to learn more about the people involved in Iran/Contra, this is a good place to start.
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