Milt Bearden

Bearden, Milt, and James Risen. The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB. New York: Random House, 2003.

Clark comment: The authorship of this work rests with a 30-year CIA veteran whose assignments including running CIA operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Soviet operations in the 1990s (Bearden) and a New York Times reporter who covers intelligence matters (Risen).

Finding this "a most interesting and very readable account of the conflict waged between the intelligence agencies of the two powers," Friedman, CIRA Newsletter 28.3, concludes that the story "is guaranteed to hold the reader's attention." Similarly, Peake, Studies 48.4 (2004), states flatly that "[t]his is a splendid book by any measure."

Prados, Washington Post, 27 Aug. 2003, notes that Bearden's book "vividly demonstrates" that "his Cold War résumé covers the full gamut of clandestine operations.... Bearden provides a lively picture of how the officers at CIA headquarters reacted to the world of Soviet intelligence." One of the book's weaknesses that it "is preoccupied with its story and short on analysis or introspection.... In addition, Bearden is completely silent on some matters.... Yet these are small gaps in an arresting, large-canvas history." This "is a first-rate account from the front lines of the Cold War."

For Stein, NYTBR, 27 Jul. 2003, "[i]f there's a more revealing account of spies at work, it's classified." However, "[t]he revelations of 'The Main Enemy' are more in the details than the substance.... But the book unveils in astonishing detail a number of C.I.A. operations unreported or only rumored until now." Drew, New York Times, 4 May 2003, focuses on the book's assertion that "four of more than a dozen Russians caught spying for the West in the mid-1980's could not have been betrayed" by Ames, Hanssen, and Howard. This leads to a conclusion that there is "an as yet unidentified traitor" within the U.S. Intelligence Community.

[CIA/Memoirs & Overviews/00s; CA/Afgh; GenPostwar/CW/End/Gen]


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