William E. Colby


Colby, William E. "After Investigating U.S. Intelligence." In The Role of American Intelligence Organizations, ed. George Whitman, 133-135. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1976. [Petersen]

[CIA/70s/Investigations; CIA/DCIs]

Colby, William E. "Can We Do Without Secret Intelligence Operations?" Skeptic 7 (May-Jun. 1975): 36-39. [Petersen]

[CIA/70s/Gen; CIA/DCIs]

Colby, William E. "The CIA's Covert Actions." Center Magazine, Mar.-Apr. 1975, 71-80. [Petersen]

[CA/To79; CIA/DCIs]

Colby, William E. "The Changing Role of Intelligence." World Outlook 13 (Summer 1991): 77-90.

[CIA/90s/90-92; CIA/DCIs]

Colby, William E. "Colby Report on the CIA." In Historical Documents of 1975, ed. Robert E. Cuthriell. Washington, DC: CQ, 1976. [Petersen]

[CIA/70s/Gen; CIA/DCIs]

Colby, William E. "Deception and Surprise: Problems of Analysts and Analysis." In Intelligence Policy and National Security, eds. Robert F. Pfaltzgraff, Jr., Uri Ra'anan. and Warren Milberg, 91-97. Hamden, CT: Archon, 1981.

[Analysis/Surprise; CIA/DCIs]

Colby, William E., with Peter Forbath. Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978.

Clark comment: This autobiography covers Colby's career from OSS to DCI. Bill Colby remains controversial both inside and outside the Agency.

Constantinides finds Colby's explanation of his "philosophy about operations and the role of an intelligence service in a democratic society ... the book's most significant features.... CIA veterans agree[] on the following: the book faithfully reflected Colby's preference and understanding of action operations, which mirrored the man's strong missionary and reformist strain, and the author was candid about his understanding of counterintelligence."

For Powers, NYTBR (21 May 1978) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 275-282, "Colby's book is important, a serious treatment of a serious subject, but at the same time it is flavorless.... More damaging to the book, however, is the impassive, almost muffled quality to Colby's voice -- the fact that he approaches his main points in a guarded manner -- as well as a certain confusion of purpose. His memoirs are addressed to the public, but they are aimed at his one-time friends and colleagues, in particular Richard Helms."

[CIA/DCIs & Memoirs; Vietnam/Phoenix][c]

Colby, William E.

1. "Intelligence in the 1980s." ABA Standing Committee Intelligence Report 3, no. 5 (1981): 3-4.

2. "Intelligence in the 1980s." Information Society 1, no. 1 (1981): 53 ff. [Petersen]

[ CIA/DCIs; GenPostwar/80s/Gen]

Colby, William E. "Intelligence in a New World." Mediterranean Quarterly (Fall 1990): 46-59.

[CIA/DCIs; GenPostwar/90s/Gen]

Colby, William E. "Intelligence Secrecy and Security in a Free Society." International Security 1 (Fall 1976): 3-14.

[CIA/70s/Gen; CIA/DCIs]

[Colby, William E.] "Interview: William Colby, Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency." Special Warfare 7, no. 2 (Apr. 1994): 40-43.

[CIA/DCIs; MI/SpecOps]

Colby, William E., with James McCarger. Lost Victory: A Firsthand Account of America's Sixteen-Year Involvement in Vietnam. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989. 1990. [pb].

Clark comment: The title sends a clear message of Colby's theme. The former DCI was convinced that mistakes, both of omission and of commission, made in the White House and by the military cost the United States a victory in Vietnam.

For Valcourt, IJI&C 3.4, Colby's book "should have been the definitive insider's guide to the intelligence side of the Vietnam conflict. Perhaps not so surprisingly he has fallen short." Colby's explanation of how he developed the Phoenix Program "is inadequate because he fails to delve deeply enough into his own frame of mind.... Despite its shortcomings,... [this is] an informative book, giving numerous personal insights of a sad and controversial period in American history."

Wirtz, I&NS 5.3, comments that readers "interested in the conduct of CIA operations ... will be disappointed by the book, which largely provides Colby's interpretations of major developments during the Vietnam war." The author "fails to address adequately the reasons why Americans so badly miscalculated the gravity of the task they faced in Vietnam.... Colby's work does offer important insights into past and present American efforts at counter-insurgency."

Other reviews include: Robert Manning, "We Could Have Won Vietnam," New York Times Book Review, 12 Nov. 1989, 18-19; and Angelo Codevilla, "The Bureaucrat & the War," Commentary 89, no. 1 (Jan. 1990), 60-62.

[CIA/Memoirs & DCIs; Vietnam/Gen & Phoenix]

Colby, William E. "OSS Operations in Norway: Skis and Daggers." Studies in Intelligence (Winter 1999-2000): 53-60; CIRA Newsletter 25, no. 2 (Summer 2000): 38-45.

In this fragment found in "some old CIA files," Colby relates his personal experiences with "Operation Rype" of the Norwegian Special Operations Group, OSS, "the first and only combined ski-parachute operation ever mounted by the US Army."


Colby, William E. "Public Policy, Secret Action." Ethics and International Affairs 3 (1989): 61-71.

[CIA/DCIs; Overviews/Ethics]

Colby, William E. "Retooling the Intelligence Industry." Foreign Service Journal, Jan. 1992, 21-25.

[CIA/DCIs; Reform/90s]

Colby, William E. "Tactical Intelligence: The Need for Improvement." Defense Intelligence Journal 1, no. 1 (Spring 1992): 75-80.

[CIA/DCIs; MI/Tactical][c]

Colby, William E. "Why I Was Fired from the CIA." Esquire, 9 May 1978, 59-62 ff. [Petersen]


Colby, William E., Walter F. Mondale, Peter Szanton, and Graham Allison. "Reorganizing the CIA: Who and How." Foreign Policy 23 (Summer 1976): 53-63.

Petersen: "Discussion of Szanton-Allison article."

[CIA/DCIs; Reform/70s]


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