Richard Helms


[Helms, Richard.] "Address to CIA Retirees by Richard Helms, 17 September 1997." CIRA Newsletter 22, no. 3 (Winter 1997-1998): 6-9.

Delivered on Retirees Day at CIA Headquarters in McLean, VA, on 17 September 1997.


[Helms, Richard.] "The Honorable Richard Helms: 1 May 1995, CIRA Luncheon, Ft. Myers Officers' Club." CIRA Newsletter 20, no. 2 (Summer 1995): 4-9.

Transcript of speech, including "question & answer" period. Comments on problems in 1975, the need for independent analysis, the work of the DDS&T.


Helms, Richard. "Intelligence in American Society." Studies in Intelligence 11, no. 3 (Summer 1967): 1-16.

[CIA/DCIs/Helms; GenPostwar/60s/Gen]

Helms, Richard. "Strategic Arms Limitation and Intelligence." Studies in Intelligence 17, no. 1 (Spring 1973): 1-7.

"[T]ext of the DCI's address to the National War College on 13 October 1971."

[CIA/DCIs/Helms; GenPostwar/Issues/Proliferation]

Helms, Richard, with William Hood. A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency. New York: Random House, 2003.

Clark comment: Helms' version of his life in the CIA is worth reading for the perceptive generalizations that he makes about the events of his time. There are certainly no shocking details revealed here, just the judgments of someone who stood close enough to the flame to get burned. His animosity toward Bill Colby is stated plainly and too frequently, and is one of the few sour notes in Helms' presentation. A careful reading of the work in its entirety yields insight and provides perspective on a number of high-level players (including Presidents) and their actions over a substantial part of the last half of the 20th century.

For Troy, Studies 48.1, Helms' book "is always interesting and frequently provocative.... Sometimes [the author] is humorous, but other times he comes across as vindictive and even petty in discussing former colleagues." The reviewer expresses some concerns about Helms' versions of Watergate and the Nosenko Affair and his continued defense of James Angleton. Thomas Twetten, Richard Stolz, and Hayden B. Peake, "Taking Exception: Revisiting Thomas Troy's Review of Richard Helms' Memoir," Studies in Intelligence 49, no. 1 (2005), argue that Troy's "is neither a balanced review of the memoir nor an adequate assessment of Director Helms' career."

Waller, IJI&C 17.1, finds that his former colleague's "description of the CIA's genesis as the U.S.'s first line of defense against the USSR is as fascinating as it is authentic." The work includes an "excellent account of the Cuban missile crisis." A Look Over My Shoulder is "an important and very readable contribution to the history of intelligence in the United States."

To Karabell, FA 82.4 (Jul.-Aug. 2003), Helms' posthumous "defense of the CIA's role in protecting the United States could not be more timely.... [M]uch of his memoir is a breezy potted history of the agency, [but there are] the flashes of anger, pride, and high dudgeon.... Helms was too loyal a cold warrior to attack the White House directly at the time of the [1970s] investigations, but two decades later, he uses his memoir to argue that the agency and its officers were just following orders. The one person who receives Helms' unsparing scorn is Colby."

Bamford, Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2003, finds that because Helms is "[w]riting at such a long remove in time" from the events of his life, "[t]he result is a book with too much flat history and too few new insights and revelations. Nevertheless, the opportunity to at last see much of the 20th century through Helms's probing eyes is well worth the price." Blewett, Library Journal, 1 Apr. 2003, comments that the author provides "background information about some operations but no real secrets.... Helms does let a few tart opinions slip."

For Goulden, Washington Times, 13 Apr. 2003, "Helms gives only terse rehashes of operations on his watch." Nevertheless, the book "is valuable because of its insight into some precepts essential to intelligence." Friedman, CIRA Newsletter, Summer 2003, says that readers "of this book should feel rewarded for the opportunity to have an insider's look into how the intelligence process in the US Government developed over time and how it was conducted during one lengthy and productive career."

According to Bath, NIPQ 19.3, this autobiography "comes across less as self-serving and more as an attempt to bring a sense of balance to a discussion of the proper role for the CIA in events of the past half century." Gustafson, I&NS 19.2, sees Helms' work providing "some keen insight into the political world of the DCI as well as a few tantalising glimpses of CIA covert operations." Rex Rectanus [VADM/USN (Ret.)], NIPQ 19.4/35-36, takes strong exception to Helms' presentation in Chapter 37, "Sihanoukville."

[CIA/60s/Gen; CIA/70s/Gen; CIA/DCIs/Helms; CIA/Memoirs]

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