James J. Angleton

Works on Angleton

R - Z

Robarge, David. "The James Angleton Phenomenon: 'Cunning Passages, Contrived Corridors': Wandering in the Angletonian Wilderness." Studies in Intelligence 53, no. 4 (Dec. 2009): 43-55. [Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol53no4/201ccunning-passages-contrived-corridors201d.html]

This nicely done article presents a brief profile of Angleton and, then, identifies and comments on nonfictional and fictional depictions of an individual who "was one of the most influential and divisive intelligence officers in US history.... Necesary restrictions on information about the enterprise that [Angleton] considered the foundation of all other intelligence work probably will prevent us from seeing the reality of him and instead consign us to continue looking at shadows and reflections. Angleton may remain to history, as he fancied himself in life, an enigma."

Robarge, David. "Moles, Defectors, and Deceptions: James Angleton and CIA Counterintelligence." Journal of Intelligence History 3, no. 2 (Winter 2003): 21-49. [Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol53no4/pdf/JIH-Angleton-Robarge-2003.pdf]

From abstract: "James Angleton ... shaped American counterintelligence for good and bad for nearly 20 years.... He conducted his search for moles in the CIA during a time when the West was under unprecedented intelligence attack from the USSR, but some of his tactics were extreme and did more damage than good. An anti-Angleton orthodoxy emerged after his forced retirement, causing a laxity in counterintelligence that contributed to later security lapses. The 'Angleton Syndrome' still influences counterintelligence practices in the United States government and public perceptions of the CIA."

Winks, Robin W. Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961. New York: Morrow, 1987. London: Collins/Harvill, 1987. 2d. ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

Robin W. Winks, Yale University history professor, died on 7 April 2003 at the age of 72. Winks, a prolific author on a wide range of subjects, "may best be remembered for 'Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961,' which garnered much attention for revealing the great extent to which American spy agencies had recruited Ivy League university faculty and students." Adam Bernstein, "Espionage Historian Robin Winks Dies," Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2003, B6.

Friedman, Parameters 27 (Summer 1997), notes that the second edition of this' book "corrects errors in the first edition and expands on some of the earlier material." Winks's chapter on the career of James J. Angleton is "the best and most complete treatment" of this "complex and controversial character." Robarge, Studies 53.4 (Dec. 2009), calls the chapter "the most insightful biographical sketch of Angleton yet written."

Thomas Powers, NYRB, 17 Aug. 1989, and Intelligence Wars (2004), 125-126, sees Cloak and Gown as "a fascinating and useful omnium-gatherum of information about intelligence built around short accounts of the careers of four Yale men who worked for the OSS, including [James J.] Angleton.... Wicks provides a good portrait of the young Angleton in London and later in Italy" where he was chief of OSS' counterintelligence branch. To Gove, IJI&C 3.3, the book's detail "is tremendous" and it is "well written and exciting."

In a statement that is the very definition of sour grapes, NameBase says that "Winks is a history professor at Yale, a university which has thoroughly earned its reputation as the CIA's alma mater. That this should be a source of pride for Winks is par for the course." More to the point, Pisani, JAH 76.1, describes Winks' book as "brilliant," and finds interesting his suggestion that "the omission of one facet of scholarly endeavor, the final and critical writing stage, may cripple each and every intelligence project." 

Surveillant 1.1 notes a Sunday Times report on 1 April 1990 "that Lord BETHELL, Euro-MP and historian, accepted £20,000 libel damages and an apology from ... WINKS, William Collins his publishers, and Hartnolls the printers, over allegations in ... CLOAK AND GOWN." (See pp. 400 and 544, fn 44).

Wise, David. Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered the CIA. New York: Random House, 1992.

According to Surveillant 4.3, Molehunt is "[o]ne of the most balanced treatments of CIA's counterintelligence horror story to have appeared in print.... This is a good example of responsible investigative journalism which demonstrates what a potentially self-destructive monster CI can be when permitted to exceed practical bounds for effective security." Ignatius, WPNWE, 16-22 Mar. 1992, says that the author "is at his best in describing the human consequences of this molehunt -- the price paid by the individual CIA officers who were its targets."

Cram sees Molehunt as a "readable and accurate account." There is some "slight exaggeration" to make it possible "to describe it as an event that 'shattered the CIA.'" Nevertheless, Wise has carried out "careful and extensive research." The story about Igor Orlov, on whom Golitsyn and Angleton concentrated so much attention, is "well-told." Wise has given us an "important addition to the literature of the Angleton period." Robarge, Studies 53.4 (Dec. 2009), also notes that the author "goes well beyond the facts to claim that the search 'shattered' the Agency."

To Bates, NIPQ 9.2, this is a "disturbing story.... If true -- and I am convinced most of it is -- it is a devastating indictment of Angleton's counterintelligence efforts.... Those I have talked to, who were involved, claim the book contains many errors, but that the overall story is true. A better book on the subject is Mangold's Cold Warrior." Rich, FILS 12.2, finds that the author's "distress is over how the hunt was conducted.... Although there is something that can ... be said to justify Angleton's actions, he eventually went far beyond the bounds of reason.... 'With his excess of zeal, Angleton has succeeded in destroying all that he had worked for.' (p 297)"

For Powers, NYRB (13 May 1993) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 295-320, "Wise ... adds much new information about the devastating effect of the CIA's prolonged investigation of Golitsyn's claims." The NameBase reviewer notes that "Golitsin's tall tales, together with Angleton's paranoia and power, led to a hunt for double agents that effectively ended the careers of some loyal CIA officers."

See also, David E. Murphy, "Sasha Who?" Intelligence and National Security 8, no. 1 (Jan. 1993), reprinted in CIRA Newsletter 18, no. 3, pp. 21-25.

Wright, Peter, with Paul Greengrass. Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer. New York: Viking, 1987. UB271G72W758

Cram sees the book as "filled with errors, exaggerations, bogus ideas, and self-inflation"; nevertheless, it "is one of the outstanding works in the field of intelligence literature.... [I]t is so full of bombast, the joy of the hunt, English eccentricities, and factual data that it must be required reading for anyone interested in intelligence." It is Wright's obsession that "beginning with Golitsyn's 1963 visit to England,... the British services, particularly MI-5, were penetrated by the Russians."

According to Smith, IJI&C 2.1, Spycatcher is "uneven, bitter, sloppy, and fascinating." The author "bitterly resents the small size of his gov't pension.... The generally sober and convincing description of his work is certainly the most interesting part.... [E]xaggeration and distortion ... are less apparent there than in the sections dealing with the activities into which Wright branched out. These include spy-pursuing...; in particular, his efforts to identify his boss, Sir Roger Hollis, as a Russian spy.... [T]he parts ... concerned with the pursuit of Hollis have more than their share of the purple prose and unconvincing, sometimes ludicrous, details that come and go in the book."

NameBase focuses on the history of the book, commenting that "Wright's book was a major challenge to Britain's secrecy laws, as British officials banned the book and then tried unsuccessfully to win an injunction against publication in a widely-reported trial in Australia. This of course guaranteed that the book would be a bestseller, whereupon some of Wright's allegations received more attention than they probably deserved."

For Gelber, I&NS 4.2, the book is "full of fascinating stories and vignettes.... [But] Wright clearly has several chips on both shoulders about the British class system and public school attitudes.... He emerges from his own story as quirky, dogged and pernickety.... He is not a particularly admirable man."

Clark comment: The credibility of Gelber's review is lessened by some glaringly off-the-mark -- and in the final analysis unnecessary -- remarks. For example, he avers that intelligence "[s]ervices employ full-time special and disinformation staffs to confuse comment, for instance by leaking selected or even entirely fictional accounts of some operation or career." The implication of large numbers of people engaged in manipulation of the public record simply does not reflect reality. And he follows that by arguing that "the CIA fabricated an entire Penkovsky 'diary,'" a mantra heard often over the years from anti-CIA types but an untruth that has long been put to rest for those who pay attention to such things.

See also D. Cameron Watt, "Fall-out from Treachery: Peter Wright and Spycatcher," Political Quarterly 59 (Apr.-Jun. 1988): 206-218.

Return to Angleton Table of Contents