The 1960s

The Bay of Pigs (1961)

A - B


Alsop, Stewart. "The Lessons of the Cuban Disaster." Saturday Evening Post, 24 Jun. 1961, 26-27 ff. [Petersen]

Aguilar, Luis, ed. Operation Zapata: The "Ultra-sensitive" Report and Testimony of the Board of Inquiry on the Bay of Pigs. Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1981.

This is the sanitized version of the report made to President Kennedy by Gen. Maxwell Taylor's Board of Inquiry (with Gen. Taylor, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh Burke, and DCI Allen Dulles).

See also, Peter Kornbluh, ed., "The ULTRASENSITIVE Bay of Pigs: Newly Released Portions of Taylor Commission Report Provide Critical New Details on Operation Zapata," National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 29, 3 May 2000, at: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB29/index.html. "While the full report of the Taylor Commission is too long to reproduce here, this Electronic Briefing Book provides excerpted passages from eight key documents, substantial portions of which were previously unavailable in the censored versions of the report released in 1977 and 1986."

Bar-Joseph, Uri. Intelligence Intervention in the Politics of Democratic States: The United States, Israel, and Britain. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1995.\

Clark comment: Bar-Joseph analyzes four case studies of what he designates "intelligence intervention" in politics: the 1961 Bay of Pigs episode; the 1954 Israeli "Unfortunate Business" or "Lavon Affair"; and the 1920 "Henry Wilson" and 1924 "Zinoviev Letter" affairs in Britain. The author's comparative approach may prove to be heavy going for the casual reader, but the politicization issue is certainly one that deserves serious study. However, as Brody, PSQ 111.3, observes, the intervention in the Lavon and Wilson affairs was at least arguably "as much by the military as by intelligence."

According to Wirtz, APSR 90.1, the "tension created by th[e] effort to offer timely estimates while overcoming incentives to pander to policymakers ... serves as a point of departure for Uri Bar-Joseph's comparative study." He "is especially interested in situations in which intelligence agencies spiral out of control and undertake unauthorized activities that overstep policy bounds." The book's "potential contribution ... to developing a theory of civil-intelligence relations, however, is limited by several shortcomings in execution and conception." Nevertheless, this "ambitious book ... does a fine job in identifying several factors which affect the willingness and ability of intelligence officials to place their preferences into the policy arena."

Warren, Surveillant 4.3, declares that "this book is mandatory reading" for serious students of intelligence: "Bar-Joseph sets the stage historically and then fits his argument onto the stage with logic and even wit." Writing in the CIRA Newsletter, Fall 1996, Warren adds that this is "an important contribution to the continuing dialogue on the politicization of intelligence and intelligence organizations." Stafford, I&NS 11.2, judges the book to be "impressively researched and written." The work "is most likely to provoke discussion through its argument that at the root of the abuses [the author] describes lies insufficient separation between intelligence and politics."

For Clutterbuck, Political Studies 44.4, Bar-Joseph "gives an excellent analysis of how these abuses of power occurred and argues that a high degree of professionalism in the intelligence services is as important as effective political control in preventing them." Friedman, Parameters, Summer 1997, finds that "Intelligence Intervention is presented in a detailed but often humorous manner that makes for an entertaining as well as an educational experience."

Bissell, Richard M., Jr., with Jonathan E. Lewis and Frances T. Pudlo. Reflections of a Cold Warrior: From Yalta to the Bay of Pigs. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996. JK468I6B55

Shryock, WIR 15.6, sees Bissell's memoirs as "thoughtful, candid, provocative, and ultimately puzzling." However, at times, the author "conveys his thoughts in a stiff, disorganized, and even excessively lawyerly manner." Falcoff, National Interest, Winter 1996-1997, finds the book "informative and stimulating," despite "its unexciting prose and a tendency to flatten what must have been far more dramatic events."

For Immerman, Choice 34.2, this work is disappointing but "nevertheless has value. It provides a succinct history of some of America's most dramatic Cold War initiatives and insight into the mindsets of their architects." Chambers concludes that "[t]here are no major disclosures. However, Bissell's personal recollections do add a new and useful viewpoint to the history of these operations." Click for a full review by Chambers.

"Methodological problems" with Bissell's memoirs are raised by Westerfield, Studies (Winter 1998-1999). Noting the clear acknowledgement that the "actual writing was done by [Bissell's] two collaborators," Westerfield also is concerned that "the posthumous additions (not clearly delineated ) obscure throughout what words were ever personally approved by Bissell and what ones were not."

Bissell, Richard M., Jr. "Response to Lucien S. Vandenbroucke, The 'Confessions' of Allen Dulles: New Evidence on the Bay of Pigs." Diplomatic History 8, no. 4 (1984): 377-380. [Petersen]

Blight, James G., and Peter Kornbluh, eds. The Politics of Illusion: The Bay of Pigs Invasion Reexamined. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998.

Bohning, Don. The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations against Cuba, 1959-1965. Washington, DC: Potomac, 2005. 2006. [pb]

According to DKR, AFIO WIN 48-05 (12 Dec. 2005), this book by the Miami Herald's Latin America editor "provides new insights into the covert war against Cuba.... [T]he Bay of Pigs ... failure did not end attempts to change the Havana regime." Efforts included "economic and political destabilization, propaganda, sabotage and assassination plots." The author "considers that the result was to increase Castro's international celebrity, provide an excuse for more repression in Cuba and contribute to the Soviet decision to introduce nuclear missiles into the island with the resulting ... crisis."

Latell, Studies 49.4 (2005), calls this work "an excellent and much needed illumination ... of all the strange and counterproductive American covert schemes that Castro has survived." The author "is balanced and nuanced," and "does a good job of showing how skeptical and reluctant most senior operations officers involved in MONGOOSE in fact were as they obediently carried out the administration's designs."

For Gambone, I&NS 20.4 (Dec. 2004), the book is "well-paced, insightful, and often fascinating." The author has provided "an additional an[d] important layer to the history of the Cold War in Latin America." Chapman, IJI&C 19.2 (Summer 2006), calls this "one thought-provoking book." Huck, Periscope (Summer 2006), finds that The Castro Obsession "is flush with new sources. It is well worth buying, reading, keeping, and studying."

Bohning, Don. "Distorting History." Intelligencer 16, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 67-74.

Although "some websites are reliable and valuable research tools, others can be tendentious advocates for a point of view, twisting or ignoring information that does not support that point of view. One need look no further for the latter than two websites based in Great Britain, run by John Simkin." Bohning, then, lays waste to some of the anti-CIA accusations made on those websites. See also, Don Bohning, "JFK Evidence and the Conspiracy Industry: To Be a Player -- Some Invent Facts," Intelligencer 17, no. 1 (Winter-Spring 2009): 61-64.

Bohning, Don. "Jake Esterline: A Profile." Intelligencer 19, no. 2 (Summer-Fall 2012): 41-42.

A brief look at the OSS/CIA career of the project director for the Bay of Pigs.

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