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The American Agent: My Life in the CIA [Hardcover]

Richard L. Holm

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Book Description

6 Feb 2003
A career CIA officer, Dick Holm served in America's "secret war" in Laos, then in 1965 was transferred to the Congo where he was injured in a plane crash and suffered appalling burns. This near-death experience had a profound effect on him, and after two painful years of recuperation he went to Hong Kong to run agents into China, then returned to CIA Headquarters as Chief of the Counter Terrorism Centre. In this role he played a key part in tracking down Carlos the Jackal, and when he was posted to Paris as Station Chief he participated in his arrest in the Sudan. Holm's work in Paris proved highly controversial when a French source became a double agent and compromised the CIA station, resulting in Holm's expulsion from France and his forced resignation from the Bureau. Two months later he was invited back to receive an official Medal of Commendation. Working under 13 different heads of the CIA in theatres of operations across the world, Dick Holm's memoir is the eventful life of one of the CIA's most celebrated officers and diplomats.

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About the Author

Richard L. Holm had a rich and varied international career as a distinguished officer of the CIA, and now lives in retirement near CIA headquarters in Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Case Officer- 7 May 2005
By Walter S. Mcintosh - Published on Amazon.com
Dick was in my opinion a fine case officer. He had a true sense of what was right and wrong and backed up his morals with action and put his own career on the line more than once to do the right thing. I am frankly surprised that the publications review board did not censor more of this book than they did. I recall kidding Dick once about how Dick Helms was so close and friendly with him when he was but a young Case Officer. Dick explained this by saying , well if you had signed a cheque for over a million dollars to have someone's face fixed you too might make an effort to get to know that officer. I feel sure , and this book shows that Dick would agree with me that today's Agency would not be so caring and loyal to it's officers. I fully recommend this book . The Agency that Dick and I joined in the mid 1960's no longer exists and Dick explains a lot of the reasons. I wish him well and hope this books does very well and is read carefully by any and all looking at the possibilities of taking up a career as an intelligence officer.
mac mcintosh
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read of a real life in the CIA 16 Jun 2003
By Williams F. Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
This book provides a fascinating glimpse of the real life of a CIA operative overseas - not a Hollywood caricature far removed from reality. In addition to an informative discussion of the training and day-to-day activities of an operations and collections officer, Holm provides interesting historical information about US involvement in Southeast Asia prior to the insertion of US military forces. Holm's ordeals and triumphs should also serve as an inspiration to young people wishing to serve their country, and lead an exciting life.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Agent --excellent reading 28 April 2003
By Sharilyn Strickfaden - Published on Amazon.com
The American Agent is not only very informative but highly interesting to read. Richard Holm's experiences and writing gives the reader the true feeling of what Clandestine service is like--not just James Bond action. Certainly makes you realize what others here & abroad go through to keep our country safe.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven, But In The End, a Worthwhile Read 17 Feb 2006
By zorba - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good book, but terribly uneven, due probably to the fact that a lot of it was vetted in advance by the CIA. But what was left was, for the most part, interesting, if not fascinating. Some parts are compelling -- especially the detailing of his near-fatal air accident in the Congo. On the other hand, Holm tends to ramble -- some of the pages seem like those Christmas letters you get from friends, detailing the activities of each and every family member. Other parts -- especially those that hint of James Bond activities (which, let's admit it, are the main reasons we read books about the CIA) are often so short on detail or drama that they leave the reader puzzled. But on the whole, it's a very interesting look inside the walls and culture of the CIA, or, at least, the CIA of a recent past.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but VERY Detailed 11 Jan 2007
By R. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Holmes is a very detailed man. He tells his lifestory in great detail. Some of it is interesting, some of it is not. He does an excellent job in describing the agency and how it operates. Unfortunately, you have to read or go through a lot of junk to get there.

If you want the "quick and dirty" info about the CIA and how it operates, do not get this book. If you want great details about our operations in the Congo, Laos, and Asia and you have plenty of time, this is the book to read.
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