Legacy of Ashes: A Rejoinder

“Legacy of Ashes,” the best-selling new history of the Central Intelligence Agency by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Tim Weiner, has been almost universally praised by prestigious book reviewers as a ground-breaking, comprehensive, reliable and insightful account of the CIA from its inception to the present. It was favorably cited in Secrecy News too.

In a detailed and sharply-worded critique, author Jeffrey T. Richelson dissents.

The book “makes ill-supported claims, issues grandiose judgments, and gives only cursory attention to important episodes,” says Richelson, who himself has produced several volumes of intelligence history.

“The kudos lavished on Weiner’s book… are just as disturbing as the volume’s shortcomings,” writes Richelson, and “the uniform praise … leaves one with a sinking feeling.”

“An intelligent debate about the strengths and shortcomings of the CIA, as well as its future, requires an unbiased understanding of its performance — something missing both from Legacy of Ashes and its reviews.”

See “Sins of Omission and Commission” by Jeffrey T. Richelson, published in the Washington DeCoded blog.

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