This second edition of Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones's engrossing history of the Central Intelligence Agency includes a new preface that discusses the agency's fortunes since the end of the cold War. Describing the CIA's adventures and misadventures from its founding in 1947, Jeffreys-Jones contends that its successes have depended largely on the power of its directors to sell its image and ideas to Washington policymakers.
This supportive, comprehensive study of the CIA traces the changing status of the agency from its 1947 beginnings to the present. Jeffreys-Jones, history lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, reveals how the CIA and its successive directors have been enmeshed in presidential politics and foreign policy, experiencing a ``golden age'' in the Eisenhower era and relatively hard times during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. The periodic congressional crusades aimed at unveiling ``the truth'' about the CIA are closely analyzed, the author arguing that such probes not only serve to keep the agency in check but in the long run strengthen it. Good congressional relations and mutual respect are, in Jeffreys-Jones's view, crucial to the proper functioning of U.S. intelligence. President Reagan, ``a keen supporter'' of the CIA, is shown here to have been virtually deaf to its advice. Jeffreys-Jones concludes: ``The various people who say that the CIA has been the world's best postwar foreign-intelligence agency are not wide of the mark.'' History Book Club alternate. (Mar.)