A poisonous book

Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D.
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, by Tim Weiner, already winner of a Pulitzer Prize, was named a finalist for the National Book Awards on October 10. [link reqires registration]

Note that the title says The History of the CIA, not A History, as if it were the definitive history that many take it to be.  Publishers Weekly calls it "comprehensive" and "credible"; The Washington Post says it "succeeds as both journalism and history, and it is must reading for anyone interested in the CIA or American intelligence since World War II."  

Defending the Agency against Weiner's attacks is Nicholas Dujmovic:
Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes is not the definitive history of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that it purports to be. Nor is it the well researched work that many reviewers say it is.... Weiner is not honest about context, he is dismissive of motivations, his expectations for intelligence are almost cartoonish, and his book too often is factually unreliable....  Legacy of Ashes is a narrowly-focused and biased account. In his preface, Weiner claims to believe that the intelligence profession is critical to national security, but he is likely to have done considerable damage, as the people who take up the profession will, I fear, have to deal with his inaccuracies and skewed perspectives for years to come.
According to the Washington Post, the CIA does almost everything wrong:

To compare some of the agency's antics revealed in this book to the Keystone Kops is to do violence to the memory of Mack Sennett, who created the slapstick comedies.

According to Dujmovic, it does many things well:

"Weiner's central theme of unremitting failure does an injustice to the truth, not least because the existence of real Agency achievements cannot be denied."
One does not have to be an intelligence expert to realize that Dujmovic may or may not be right about the CIA, but Publishers Weekly and the Washington Post are certainly wrong about Legacy of Ashes.  Weiner spends hundreds of pages arguing that the CIA gets almost everything wrong and complains when policymakers ignore it. 

He makes fun of gullible CIA agents and yet believes official pronouncements of the Soviet Union and Communist China. 

He acts as if the Soviets were never a real threat and praises Jimmy Carter (!!!) for beginning its dissolution.  There are never any bad guys out there, and when they do anything wrong, it's our fault for provoking them.

Legacy of Ashes is exactly what it is: history as written by a correspondent for the New York Times.

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, by Tim Weiner, already winner of a Pulitzer Prize, was named a finalist for the National Book Awards on October 10. [link reqires registration]

Note that the title says The History of the CIA, not A History, as if it were the definitive history that many take it to be.  Publishers Weekly calls it "comprehensive" and "credible"; The Washington Post says it "succeeds as both journalism and history, and it is must reading for anyone interested in the CIA or American intelligence since World War II."  

Defending the Agency against Weiner's attacks is Nicholas Dujmovic:
Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes is not the definitive history of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that it purports to be. Nor is it the well researched work that many reviewers say it is.... Weiner is not honest about context, he is dismissive of motivations, his expectations for intelligence are almost cartoonish, and his book too often is factually unreliable....  Legacy of Ashes is a narrowly-focused and biased account. In his preface, Weiner claims to believe that the intelligence profession is critical to national security, but he is likely to have done considerable damage, as the people who take up the profession will, I fear, have to deal with his inaccuracies and skewed perspectives for years to come.
According to the Washington Post, the CIA does almost everything wrong:

To compare some of the agency's antics revealed in this book to the Keystone Kops is to do violence to the memory of Mack Sennett, who created the slapstick comedies.

According to Dujmovic, it does many things well:

"Weiner's central theme of unremitting failure does an injustice to the truth, not least because the existence of real Agency achievements cannot be denied."
One does not have to be an intelligence expert to realize that Dujmovic may or may not be right about the CIA, but Publishers Weekly and the Washington Post are certainly wrong about Legacy of Ashes.  Weiner spends hundreds of pages arguing that the CIA gets almost everything wrong and complains when policymakers ignore it. 

He makes fun of gullible CIA agents and yet believes official pronouncements of the Soviet Union and Communist China. 

He acts as if the Soviets were never a real threat and praises Jimmy Carter (!!!) for beginning its dissolution.  There are never any bad guys out there, and when they do anything wrong, it's our fault for provoking them.

Legacy of Ashes is exactly what it is: history as written by a correspondent for the New York Times.