This is a remarkable book by a remarkable writer. It caused howls of protest from the CIA and US media elite when first published, but there is no doubt that Hersh has the goods: the book is now on the CIA reading list!
Hersh himself clearly did vast independent primary research and interview work for the book. His anatomy of the Dulles brothers, Frank Wisner, Wild Bill Donovan, Bill Casey,and the creepy but omnipresent Carmel Offie is superb. Wall Street staffed the US intelligence elite, in 1941 as in 2001---and oil and high finance were and still are that world's elixir. Lastly, the index and notes are a boon to future researchers. [Interestingly, none of the Dulles-adoring biographies published of late cites any of Hersh's work. Hmmmm.]
Hersh has a novelist's skill in bringing this cast of real characters to life: the descriptions are unforgettable, but the research, especially to me, a fellow digger in contemporary intelligence history, is awe-inspiring. Hersh has not written a book predicated on others' books: there is a treasure trove here of original research, especially in relation to the Wall Street connections to Nazi business and, critically, to the SAFEHAVEN investigation, rediscovery of which of course broke the Holocaust gold story some years back.
But most of all, this book is hugely entertaining and not a little amusing, told in a confidingly baroque language, it's true, but imagine you're hearing these stories in a clubland chair, from someone Who Knows Stuff, of a long and fascinating evening. Listen carefully: your attention'll be rewarded.
This is nuanced, detailed writing about complicated history: one's reading effort, I found, rewards---this is an important book laying open the defining people and defining events of the US intelligence empire. It's no surprise Hersh is in high demand as an intelligence expert since Sept 11th, as the CIA and its watchers look for answers.