The 1960s

The Bay of Pigs (1961)

C - H

Cabell, Charles A., Jr. [BGEN/USAF (Ret.)], ed. A Man of Intelligence: Memoirs of War, Peace, and the CIA. Boulder, CO: Impavide Publications, 1997.

According to Peake, AFIO WIN 42-99 (23 Oct. 1999), Cabell held a succession of important Army Air Force and Air Force staff and intelligence positions before being named as DDCI (1953-1962) under Allen Dulles. Cabell devotes "[m]ore than 100 pages ... to his CIA service, and of particular interest here are his candid comments about the Bay of Pigs operation in which he was directly involved." Cabell's assessment of the reasons for the Bay of Pigs failure is "dispassionate," but he does not mince words either. This book "is a valuable contribution to the history of Air Force intelligence and the early years of the CIA."

Delgado, James P. "Back to the Bay of Pigs." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 127, no. 3 (Mar. 2001): 80-82, 84.

The author "presents a rare glimpse of how the Cuban government portrays the Bay of Pigs invasion 40 years later: 'Playa Giron -- First Great Defeat of Imperialism in Latin America.'"

Drachman, Edward R., and Alan Shank. Presidents and Foreign Policy: Countdown to Ten Controversial Decisions. Ithaca, NY: SUNY Press, 1997.

Clark comment: The authors offer a case study of one major decision for each president from Truman to Clinton. It is possible to argue that there are better potential cases for each president than the ones selected for study, but those chosen are interestingly fitted into the authors' novel countdown approach. The cases presented include Chapter 3 on Kennedy's decision to support the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Larson, APSR 92.1, appreciates the authors' efforts to "present more objective criteria" than is normally the case in decision-making evaluation. Their evaluation scheme "seems plausible and reasonable on the face," but "it does not always work well when applied to specific cases." Nevertheless, "the case studies are well researched, concise, and provocative."

Feeney, Hal [CDR,USN (Ret.)]

1. "The Bay of Pigs Remembered." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 4, no. 3 (Fall 1988): 1-4.

See below.

2. Feeney, Hal [CDR,USN (Ret.)] "The Night of the White Horse." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 11, no. 1 (Winter 1995): 1-4.

The Bay of Pigs is remembered by a Navy intelligence officer who was stationed at Guantanamo Naval Base at the time and who was operationally involved in support activities. This is an edited and updated version of an article that appeared in NIPQ (Fall 1988), under the title "The Bay of Pigs Remembered." See above.

Flannery, James E. "Bay of Pigs." Intelligencer 15, no. 2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007): 48-54.

The author was an assistant to DDP Richard Bissell. As noted by Don Bohning, "Precede," Intelligencer 15, no. 2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007): 47, this article offers "no startling new revelations," but provides "some revealing behind the scenes personal insights." These include oberservations about "the relationship between Bissell and his then deputy, Richard Helms."

Fursenko, Alexander, and Timothy Naftali. One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1958-1964. New York: Norton, 1997.

Szulc, Washington Post Book Week, 29 Jun. 1997, and Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 14 Jul. 1997, faults the authors for failing "to make some sense of the extraordinary materials they have secured from Soviet archives." Fursenko and Naftali "demonstrate an appalling ignorance of the Cuban revolutionary process, and this, in turn, distorts their narration of the 1962 events." However, "One Hell of a Gamble is a useful study in that it reveals the enormous dangers of basing policies on wishful thinking and of profoundly misunderstanding other cultures and other intelligence systems."

For Bates, NIPQ 14.2, One Hell of a Gamble is "a fascinating revelation [of] what the adversaries in Moscow, Washington, and Havana knew and when they knew it." Miner, FA 76.4, views this work as "perhaps the most comprehensive narrative of the perilous moment yet to appear.... One of the study's more significant findings concerns the limitations of intelligence" -- on both sides.

Chapman, IJI&C 11.2, is not totally enthralled with One Hell of a Gamble. For him, the book's "treatment of the Cuban revolution and the Bay of Pigs leaves much to be desired, and sorely disappoints. The research done by the authors appears to be a rehash of the fancied fiction we've been reading for the past forty years." The reviewer notes that the book "covers the Cuban missile crisis in detail, presenting lots of new, interesting information." Nevertheless, the "presumption should be that there is a slant to the Soviet archives, much as would be expected of anything coming out of Whitehall or the White House." Chapman finds that the authors' resurrection of a right-wing plot by Texas oilmen to kill President Kennedy only serves to "seriously weaken[] an otherwise most useful book."

To Powers, London Review of Books (13 Nov. 1997) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 171-184, this work "is an unusually comprehensive and rich account of the inner workings of the Soviet government during a moment of crisis."

Gleijeses, Piero. "Ships in the Night: The CIA, the White House, and the Bay of Pigs." Journal of Latin American Studies 27, no. 1 (Feb. 1995): 1-42.

Hershberg, James G. "Their Man in Havana: Anglo-American Intelligence Exchanges and the Cuban Crises, 1961-62." Intelligence and National Security 15, no. 2 (Summer 2000): 121-176.

From Abstract: "When the United States broke diplomatic relations with Cuba in January 1961, American officials turned to London, which maintained its embassy in Havana, to provide political, economic, and military intelligence on ... Cuba. Over the next two years,... the British government used this channel not only to provide information to its superpower ally, but also to try to 'moderate' Washington's anti-Castro policies ... and to deflect pressures to join its campaign of economic pressures against the island."

Higgins, Trumbull. Perfect Failure: Kennedy, Eisenhower, and the CIA at the Bay of Pigs. New York: Norton, 1987. [Chambers]

Hunt, E. Howard (listed chronologically).

1. Give Us This Day. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1973.

Hunt's version of the Bay of Pigs disaster gets attention only because of the author's involvement in the Watergate escapade.

2. Undercover: Memoirs of an American Secret Agent. New York: Berkley, 1974.

This is the autobiography of a former CIA officer who gained "fame" as one of the Watergate burglers.

3. with Greg Aunapu. American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond. New York: Wiley, 2007.

According to EAB, AFIO WIN 06-07 (12 Feb. 2007), the author, "who died recently at the age of 88, recounts his long career in the CIA that began in ... the OSS," through his time as a consultant to the Nixon White House and "his role in the Watergate scandal, for which he served 33 months in federal prison."

Noting that among his other activities Hunt was also a "prolific suspense novelist," Publishers Weekly (via Amazon.com) terms American Spy a "breezy, unrepentant memoir." Along the way, Hunt "shamelessly drops the names of the rich and powerful." This "nostalgic memoir breaks scant new ground in an already crowded field."

Peake, Studies 51.3 (2007), finds a "pattern of careless errors" that raises "[d]isturbing doubt about the historical accuracy of the book." His conclusion: "American Spy has little to recommend it." For Goulden, Washington Times, 8 Apr. 2007, and Intelligencer 15.3 (Summer-Fall 2007), this is "a true mess of a book," with "howling historical glitches about intelligence." The reviewer concludes: "I wish now that I had not read this pathetic book. Avoid it."

Husain, Aiyaz. "Covert Action and US Cold War Strategy in Cuba, 1961-62." Cold War History 5, no. 1 (Feb. 2005): 23-53.

From abstract: "An examination of the administration's covert actions in Cuba, both prior to and during Operation Mongoose, reveal clear bounds within which President Kennedy sought to circumscribe those actions. And the policy he adopted, a preponderant body of evidence shows, stopped well short of overt military intervention."

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