Shadow Warrior: William Egan Colby and the CIA

Shadow Warrior: William Egan Colby and the CIA

Hardback

By (author) Woods Randall

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  • Publisher: Basic Civitas Books
  • Format: Hardback | 576 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 242mm x 43mm | 821g
  • Publication date: 25 April 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Washington
  • ISBN 10: 0465021948
  • ISBN 13: 9780465021949
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Sales rank: 785,261

Product description

World War II commando, Cold War spy, and CIA director under presidents Nixon and Ford, William Egan Colby played a critical role in some of the most pivotal events of the twentieth century. A quintessential member of the greatest generation, Colby embodied the moral and strategic ambiguities of the postwar world, and first confronted many of the dilemmas about power and secrecy that America still grapples with today. In `Shadow Warrior,` eminent historian Randall B. Woods presents a riveting biography of Colby, revealing that this crusader for global democracy was also drawn to the darker side of American power. Aiming to help reverse the spread of totalitarianism in Europe and Asia, Colby joined the U.S. Army in 1941, just as America entered World War II. He served with distinction in France and Norway, and at the end of the war transitioned into America's first peacetime intelligence agency: the CIA. Fresh from the fight against fascism, Colby zealously redirected his efforts against international communism. He insisted on the importance of fighting communism on the ground, doggedly applying guerilla tactics for counterinsurgency, sabotage, surveillance, and information-gathering on the new battlefields of the Cold War. Over time, these strategies became increasingly ruthless; as head of the CIA's Far East Division, Colby oversaw an endless succession of assassination attempts, coups, secret wars in Laos and Cambodia, and the Phoenix Program, in which 20,000 civilian supporters of the Vietcong were killed. Colby ultimately came clean about many of the CIA's illegal activities, making public a set of internal reports--known as the `family jewels`--that haunt the agency to this day. Ostracized from the intelligence community, he died under suspicious circumstances--a murky ending to a life lived in the shadows. Drawing on multiple new sources, including interviews with members of Colby's family, Woods has crafted a gripping biography of one of the most fascinating and controversial figures of the twentieth century.

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Author information

Randall B. Woods is John A. Cooper Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas. Author or coauthor of ten books, including `LBJ: Architect of American Ambition` and `Fulbright: A Biography,` which won the Robert D. Ferrell Prize, Woods lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Review quote

Evan Thomas, `New York Times Book Review` `[A] well-written, thoroughly researched and disarming biography. What was Colby really thinking and feeling all those years as he performed morally questionable acts for noble causes? We cannot know for sure, and Wood, perhaps wisely, does not guess. Colby's inner motivations were well hidden, perhaps even to Colby.` `Wall Street Journal` `In this carefully researched biography, Mr. Woods provides a favorable but critical evaluation of a man whose undeniable talents did not prepare him to lead America's most prominent spy agency at its most perilous moment.` `New York Times Book Review,` Editors' Choice `This artful biography of the onetime director of central intelligence reveals a spy who could blend in anywhere.` `Dallas Morning News` `[A] richly researched, juicy history of a quiet, unassuming man's rise through the ranks of America's elite intelligence service, from midlevel officer in the nascent spy agency in 1950 to his eventual appointment as CIA director amid the erupting scandals of the 1970s. The book is part spy novel and part autopsy on the spy agency's near-demise.` `Pittsburgh Tribune Review` `[`Shadow Warrior`] aims to provide insight into Colby the man - something of a loner, who never really fit with the Beltway crowd but prided himself on being able to blend in anywhere. Colby's life is one that raises hard questions, including at what point adopting an enemy's tactics drags one to that enemy's level; this book illuminates that life but doesn't pretend there are easy answers.` `New York Journal of Books` `An entertaining and fact-filled biography.... Anyone interested in either political biographies and/or the recent history of America's foreign policy [should read] this very interesting and informative book.` `Roanoke Times` `Woods raises questions about Colby's death, making this story a mystery worthy of a man who led our government's most