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A Look Over My Shoulder

A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency

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A Look over My Shoulder begins with President Nixon’s attempt to embroil the Central Intelligence Agency, of which Richard Helms was then the director, in the Watergate cover-up. Helms then recalls his education in Switzerland and Germany and at Williams College; his early career as a foreign correspondent in Berlin, during which he once lunched with Hitler; and his return to newspaper work in the United States. Helms served on the German desk at OSS headquarters in London; subsequently, he was assigned to Allen Dulles’s Berlin office in postwar Germany.

On his return to Washington, Helms assumed responsibility for the OSS carryover operations in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe. He remained in this post until the Central Intelligence Agency was formed in 1947. At CIA, Helms served in many positions, ultimately becoming the organization’s director from 1966 to 1973. He was appointed ambassador to Iran later that year and retired from government service in January 1977. It was often thought that Richard Helms, who served longer in the Central Intelligence Agency than anyone else, would never tell his story, but here it is–revealing, news-making, and with candid assessments of the controversies and triumphs of a remarkable career.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 24, 2003 – Director of Central Intelligence from 1966 to 1973, and with an intelligence career spanning three decades, Helms offers an insider's defense—and occasionally critique—of the frequently maligned agency's performance during the turbulent 1950s, '60s and early '70s. He argues that criticisms of the CIA are misdirected because the agency made no policy and had no agenda of its own—it merely did the president's bidding. Helms doesn't sensationalize. Instead, he describes how the CIA successfully influenced geopolitical developments in ways that benefited the U.S. The strength of the book is in the breadth of history it encompasses. Helms's career spanned WWII, the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S role in the ouster of Chile's President Allende, Vietnam, numerous Middle East meltdowns and much of the Cold War. Along the way he battled with the Pentagon about the relative troop strength of the Vietcong and with the Department of Defense over the nuclear capability of the USSR. Helms's impressions of the men of his times, from Hitler to Reagan, makes for sometimes surprising reading. For example, President Johnson is sympathetically treated, while Sen. Frank Church, who headed Senate hearings into the CIA, is depicted as an ambitious political opportunist. Although it is only by implication, Helms raises provocative questions about the proper scope of congressional oversight of the CIA that are especially relevant in the post–September 11 world. Photos not seen by PW. (On sale Apr. 8)
A Look Over My Shoulder
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Apr 08, 2003
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 496 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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