Richard L. Holm

Holm, Richard L.

1. The American Agent: My Life in the CIA. London: St. Ermin's, 2003. With new intro. by author. London: St. Ermin's, 2005. [pb]

Peake, Studies 48.1, comments that a "reader will experience some frustration [with this memoir] -- tales of secret operations often lack detail and Holm's story is no exception. But to learn what it takes to be a CIA operations officer in all stages of a career, The American Agent is a great source and an enjoyable read."

For Goulden, Washington Times, 1 Aug. 2004, Holm's story is one "of incredible human bravery and endurance." However, the "book is leavened with anecdotes about the practicalities of intelligence field work." Holm's career ended when he "was forced into resignation from the Paris station through some nasty actions" by former DCI John Deutch. Goulden's conclusion: "a brave man got a raw deal from perhaps the worst director the agency ever endured."

2. The Craft We Chose: My Life in the CIA. Mountain Lake Park, MD: Mountain Lake Press, 2011.

Mersky, Proceedings 137.10 (Oct. 2011), concludes that Holm's memoir "is well worth reading, not just for the details of the CIA's inner workings but as a chronicle of how one American dealt with adversity to continue serving in the line of work he had, indeed, chosen."

For Peake, Studies 56.1 (Mar. 2012) and Intelligencer 19.2 (Summer-Fall 2012), this revised and expanded version of Holm's memoirs "is a unique contribution to the literature of intelligence, demonstrating what can be done when one has talent, is motivated, and refuses to be overcome by adversity."


Holm, Richard. "A Close Call in Africa." Studies in Intelligence (Winter 1999-2000): 17-28. CIRA Newsletter 25, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 36-41.

Clark comment: The author recounts the circumstances surrounding his frightful injuries in a plane crash in the Congo in 1965. Loeb, Washington Post, 15 May 2000, uses the publication of Ted Gup's Book of Honor (2000) to tell the story of Holm's crash, recovery, subsequent career, and frightful treatment at the end of his career by then DCI Deutch. See also, Gregory L. Vistica and Evan Thomas, "The Man Who Spied Too Long: The Inside Story of How a Cold-War Hero Became a Fall Guy for a Troubled CIA," Newsweek, 29 Apr. 1996, 26, 31.

[CIA/60s/Gen; CIA/90s/95-96/France; CIA/Memoirs; CA/Africa/Congo]

Holm, Richard L. "No Drums, No Bugles: Recollections of a Case Officer in Laos, 1962-1964." Studies in Intelligence 47, no. 1 (2003): 1-17. Available at:

This is an excellent firsthand, tactical look at one piece of the early effort in Laos (January 1962-July 1964) by a long-serving and highly regarded CIA officer in his first action. Holm's thoughts looking backward are in line with those of many who served in that fragment of the war in Southeast Asia:

"Now, some 35 years later, I lament many of the unintended results of our efforts.... The ignorance and the arrogance of Americans arriving in Southeast Asia during that period were contributing factors. We came to help, but we had only minimal understanding of the history, culture, and politics of the people we wanted to aid.... US policies in Laos are largely responsible for the disaster that befell the Hmong..... Their way of life has been destroyed. They can never return to Laos. In the end, our policymakers failed to assume the moral responsibility that we owed to those who worked so closely with us during those tumultuous years."

[CIA/Laos & Memoirs]

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