I am struggling, s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g to finish this book! I started it at least 4 times, finally decided I HAD to finish it.
This book tells a very fascinating story: the story of the early days of the CIA, internal tensions between proponents of intelligence gathering vs covert operations, how the CIA was drawn into assassination plots and coups. The historical period includes Bay of Pigs, assassination of Diem, attempts on Castro, Vietnam, and of course Watergate. All in one volume!
The narrative is anchored to the career of a prototypical company man, Richard Helms. The Helms story is itself an interesting one: an old school intelligence officer who rises through the ranks to become DCI, only to be hung out to dry by a drowning president and a retributive congress.
With this material the book should be riveting from cover to cover. Unfortunately, it reads like the notes for a book, not a completed book. Names and events spill out in basic chronological order, but they run together and are soon forgotten.
This book is the result of many interviews with former CIA employees, and Powers' treatment of the subjects seems quite even handed. Although he chronicles many CIA misdeeds, it is the political machinations of Nixon, his staff, and the various congressmen and committees that look the most venal.
Great subject matter, but don't say you weren't warned.