Chief of Station, Congo

Chief of Station, Congo : Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone

3.58 (302 ratings by Goodreads)
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Larry Devlin arrived as the new chief of station for the CIA in the Congo five days after the country had declared its independence, the army had mutinied, and governmental authority had collapsed. As he crossed the Congo River in an almost empty ferry boat, all he could see were lines of people trying to travel the other way,out of the Congo. Within his first two weeks he found himself on the wrong end of a revolver as militiamen played Russian-roulette, Congo style, with him. During his first year, the charismatic and reckless political leader, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered and Devlin was widely thought to have been entrusted with (he was) and to have carried out (he didn't) the assassination. Then he saved the life of Joseph Desire Mobutu, who carried out the military coup that presaged his own rise to political power. Devlin found himself at the heart of Africa, fighting for the future of perhaps the most strategically influential country on the continent, its borders shared with eight other nations. He met every significant political figure, from presidents to mercenaries, as he took the Cold War to one of the world's hottest zones. This is a classic political memoir from a master spy who lived in wildly dramatic times.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 139.7 x 205.74 x 20.32mm | 204.12g
  • PublicAffairs,U.S.
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 8 pages b&w photographs
  • 1586485644
  • 9781586485641
  • 418,080

Review quote

"If one man personified the cold war in Africa-that ruinous contest between the greatest powers in the world's weakest states-it was Larry Devlin. Smart, ambitious and hard as bullets, a second-world-war veteran who equated communists with Nazis, he was one of the CIA's first station chiefs in Congo, where he arrived just days after it was made independent by Belgium in 1960-at two weeks' notice... Mr Devlin's was an unsavoury career. But so was that of any successful cold-war spy. His adventures, which he tells quite well, included dodging cannibal mutineers and murderous Western mercenaries; surviving numerous mock executions; and driving around Kinshasa with a rigid corpse sticking out of his trunk." The Economist "The real story, this book makes clear, was more colourful than any novelist dare imagine...[W]hat revelations remain [after being vetted by the CIA] are still extraordinary enough to ensure his memoirs become a must-read for those interested in the shaping of independent Africa. Devlin's account of the first Mobutu coup, in which he personally assured the future dictator that the US would bankroll his takeover, is one such astonishing moment....The danger with Chief of Station, Congo, is that it will be read purely as a work of historical interest, a fascinating account of a now-obsolete period when Moscow and Washington treated Africa as their board for a game of superpower chess. In fact, this book is of pressing and immediate relevance." Michaela Wrong in the Financial Times "This is one book every African must read... highly recommended." New African "Revealing... For devotees of Frederick Forsyth, there is plenty in these pages about gun-running in the heart of darkness." The Spectator"
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About Lawrence Devlin

Larry Devlin was raised in California, enlisted in the army reaching the grade of captain in World War II, joined the CIA in 1949 and was appointed Chief of Station Congo in 1959. He subsequently served as Chief of Station, Laos and Chief, Africa Division and retired in 1974. He resides in Virginia and Provence, France.
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Rating details

302 ratings
3.58 out of 5 stars
5 16% (48)
4 38% (116)
3 35% (106)
2 9% (28)
1 1% (4)
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