5 Great Books About the CIA

For all the shadowy, cloak-and-dagger history of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, plenty of reading material has been published about this mysterious government agency. If your college major is related to political science, international policy or government, you will certainly be interested in books about the CIA.

Whether you choose to believe them or not, the five books that make up this list are considered to be among the best literature ever published about the CIA. What is amazing about these books is that they have actually been reviewed by the CIA, which surprisingly runs a book review section on the agency’s website. Whenever a CIA book review ends up appears to be fastidious, readers tend to take this as a sign that the book may be revealing some uncomfortable truths about the agency.

1. Legacy of Ashes

Of all the great books about the CIA, this one stands out as having been thoroughly slammed by a scathing online review posted by the agency. This 2007 book is encyclopedic in nature, and it was put together by a journalist who obtained a good portion of his material from CIA archives, according to Forbes.

2. Shadow Warrior

The work of the CIA is often carried out by odd characters who are recruited by the agency due to their skill set and ideology. Felix Rodriguez is a Cuban American who served the CIA as a paramilitary agent from the days of the Bay of Pigs Invasion to the Iran Contra scandal. This is a patriotic read.

3.  The Art of Intelligence

What drives someone to become a spy for the CIA? This is not the most ethical job in the world, and according to author Henry A. Crumpton, the assignments are not always patriotic. Some readers may find it surprising to learn that the CIA and President Obama get along swimmingly, because he has been one of the few leaders who has not sold the agency down the river.

4. A Look Over My Shoulder

Written by former Director Richard Helms, this CIA book is as interesting as it is self-righteous. An interesting section of the book refers to the Watergate scandal as amateur hour at its best, something the CIA would have never carried out due to the difficult aftermath of plausible deniability.

5. The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence

This is an older book that has been lambasted by the CIA, and it is easy to see why. The cult of intelligence referenced in the title is a way to describe what the authors criticize as a feeling of operating outside of the boundaries of legality. At the time this book was published, many sections were redacted; these sections would later become declassified and end up making the CIA look bad.

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In the end, for all the revealing prose the books above offer to readers, it is difficult to truly discern what could really be true. The formula of believing the books that have been more sharply criticized by CIA reviewers may not be conducive to the entire truth, but it serves as a clue that something in the chapters makes the agency ill at ease. These books by about the CIA are bound to be an interesting read.