Although not real well-known, those who have studied modern American history, mainly in the intelligence sector, have seen Richard Bissell's name associated with the Marshall Plan, the U-2 spy plane, and the Bay of Pigs, to name a few. It's refreshing to get first-hand account from Bissell himself, and how he shares some of the key events during the last century in which he played a big part.
The chapter of the Marshall Plan I found a bit tedious, mainly because it delves deeply into economics; that was Bissell's specialty. If you're into economics and the theory behind it, you'll love that chapter, as he goes into detail and the machinations of what went on behind the scenes during that post-WWII period of reconstructing Europe. The chapters on the U-2 and Bay of Pigs I found very enlightening. You always hear it from second or third hand sources, which many times present it from a dark or conspiratorial point of view. But to hear it told by Bissell, and how they all came to be, is worth the price of the book. The persistence he possessed (and was a big part of his character) is evident in his successes and demands put on him during the Cold War. Also, the day-by-day (or even hour-by-hour) details of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and why it failed, is worth studying. Although I feel Bissell shouldn't be blamed for it's failure, he does in fact take responsibility for it, and readily admits it, as well as his shortcomings (several times in the book, actually). I don't know if it was necessary to repeat it so many times, but perhaps he just wanted to set things straight.
Bissell admits he was a bit presumptuous at times in his judgment during those times, however he seemed to have learned from his experiences and mistakes, and there is no arrogance in the way he lays it out. What you see is a humble genius simply telling it from his point of view, someone who had a big, extremely important role in the 20th century, yet avoided the spotlight.
He was, in effect, as Evan Thomas so aptly titled the book written about Bissell, Wisner, Barnes, and Fitzgerald - one of "The Very Best Men."