Reviewed by David S. Robarge
[Dr. Robarge is the chief historian of the CIA and an adjunct at Georgetown]
Readers who pick up The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton by Jefferson Morley hoping finally to have a comprehensive and objective treatment of the Agency’s shadowy and controversial chief of counterintelligence will be sorely disappointed.C'mon now Professor, don't sugar-coat it.
What they will find instead is an erratically organized account of most of the key events in Angleton’s life along with an agglomeration of often badly sourced suppositions, inferences, allegations, and innuendos frequently cast in hyperbolic or categorical language. The Ghost displays the most prominent shortcomings of journalistic history: reportage substitutes for cohesive narrative, with vignettes and atmospherics stitched together with insufficient discernment among sources. One of Morley’s more dubious ones—an anonymous blog post with no citations, from which he pulls an outlandish quote—has inadvertently provided an insight into what his ulterior motive in writing The Ghost appears to be: “This is not about who James Angleton was so much as what he had to be ” [emphasis added].
In pursuit of a story he seems to have already written in his mind, Morley manipulates historical facts, engages in long leaps of logic, and avoids inconvenient contradictory evidence and interpretations to produce yet another superficial caricature of a deeply complicated personality.
Perhaps the most problematic feature of The Ghost is Morley’s penchant for reaching grandiose conclusions based on sketchy or no evidence, contorted reasoning, or unfamiliarity with intelligence processes and the history of the events in which he places Angleton. Among numerous instances, Morley overstates Angleton’s part in the Italian election operation—he hardly was its “miracle worker”...MUCH MORE
The review is six pages long and just brutal. I don't think he grades on a curve.