From the writer Kai Bird calls a “wonderfully accessible historian,” the first major history of the CIA in a decade, published to tie in with the seventieth anniversary of the agency’s founding
“Anyone who writes on the history of the CIA without taking into account Prados will be missing his cue.”
—Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. on Prados’s Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA
The Ghosts of Langley is a provocative and panoramic new history of the Central Intelligence Agency that tells the story of the agency through the eyes of key figures in CIA history and its covert actions around the world. Drawing on a wealth of newly declassified documents, celebrated historian of intelligence John Prados throws fresh light on classic agency operations such as the Bay of Pigs, and discerns a disturbing continuum from the practice of covert actions from Iran in the 1950s, Chile and Vietnam in the 1970s, and Central America in the 1980s to the current secret wars in the Muslim world.
Prados delves into early agency history to show that spy chief legends including Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner were masters of obfuscation who shielded the agency from government probing, to the extent that they have cast a ghostly shadow over their bureaucratic descendants. Thanks to these legendary spymasters, over the seven decades since its creation the CIA has slowly decoupled itself from government accountability, going rogue in a series of highly troubling and even criminal ventures that reach their tragic apotheosis with the secret overseas prisons and torture programs of the War on Terror.