Sunday, May 5, 2013

The CIA, Foreign Policy, and the U.S. at War: This Week in the Book Pages

This week you can read reviews on two books on the CIA.  On today's "military-intelligence complex" over at The New Republic Jack Goldsmith has a piece on Mark Mazzetti's The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth (Penguin).  As Goldsmith writes "[t]he length, the geographic, and the elaborate secrecy of the war against Al Qaeda are remarkable.  Just as remarkable, and less appreciated, are the unusual institutions fighting the secret war."  He concludes that The Way of the Knife is a "timely report" on the "military-intelligence complex."  And the New York Times has a review of Shadow Warrior: William Egan Colby and the CIA (Basic Books) by Randall B. Woods about the director of the CIA from 1973 to 1975 who oversaw the Phoenix program tasked with "neutralizing" the Viet Cong.

For more on the 1970s, in the Wall Street Journal Jonathan Karl reviews Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century (Basic).  He writes:
 The 1970s seem destined to be a justly forgotten decade—a time of disco, stagflation and little of the social upheaval that defined the previous decade or the epic global changes of the one that followed. But Christian Caryl sees more than malaise when he looks at the 1970s; he sees one of history's great turning points. "With the passage of time," Mr. Caryl writes in "Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century," "the 1970s begin to appear less like a sideshow than the main event."
On U.S. foreign policy, in the New York Times, reviews of David Rohde's, Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in the Middle East (Viking) (here), and the Washington Post has a review of The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat (Random House) by Vali Nasr (here)

And for books on the U.S. at war, the Wall Street Journal has a review of The Marines Take Anbar (Naval Institute) by Richard H. Shultz Jr, and the Washington Post has a review of Steve Vogel's Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks that Saved the Nation (Random House) about the War of 1812.

Two other reviews of interest this week are of Neil Irwin's The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire (Penguin) (here), and Stacy Perman's A Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World's Most Legendary Watch (Atria) (here).