Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future

The book “The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future” is authored by Chris Whipple – a renowned author of The Gatekeepers – a New York Times best-seller.

He is a documentary filmmaker and also contributes op-ed pieces to New York Times and Washington Post. The book was originally published back in September 2020 and this classic book calls attention to the major tragic events ever conducted by the world’s most influential and powerful agency – the CIA, which only listens and bends toward the United States President and except him, it is not answerable to any of the person who ever exists in the world. The CIA director commands an army of analysts, covert operatives, paramilitary warriors, and lethal drones. It also influences policy around the globe. But, if he doesn’t have the ear of the President, the whole enterprise is not.

Moreover, it puts highlights the crucial incidents executed on the fiats of CIA’s directors, the success stories which came out as the result of being escorted by the highly expert intelligence officers, and the forfeits of espionage that frequently led way towards extreme ruination.

The book is a thorough and the most enlightening portrait ever of America’s CIA Directors who take risk that involves uncertainty and go to every end just in order to defend their national interests and in most cases, to satisfy the self-interests of their higher officials. Furthermore, the book contains candid interviews with the living CIA Directors, employees, directors of national intelligence, and Presidents, and together the author has built up a narrative that is both exciting and appalling at the same time. It nearly covers all the concealed yet most noteworthy events ever happened in the history of mankind and all the undisclosed stories of the CIA’s biggest ever manhunt.

Further, he explains that the CIA often works in two camps. First, it rather gathers information on nations by spying on them or either by simply going through that nation’s newspaper which comprises every relative information the intelligence directors need to use. CIA directors are highly professional in their field and know how to turn any of the nation’s own strategies against it. Their information is most often extremely accurate and their predictions every so often go true but, of course, they are humans and they can be mistaken, and for that, they have paid the deadly price many times.

In the second camp, the CIA has trained operatives who always get to use against their own states forcefully. It entices these people to betray their own country by playing false and using the terms of dishonesty and spying. They are the proficient deceptors who have practiced seduction and deception for a long under highly skillful leaders. They are the ones badly trapped and twirling on the sharp ideas of directors.

If we further go into the book, we find Richard Helms who spoke the truth to power, warning Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon that North Vietnam wasn’t dwindling, and then tarnished his escutcheon by assenting to spy on anti-war protesters. Allen Dulles thrilled Dwight Eisenhower by overthrowing supposedly hostile governments in Iran and Guatemala but then supervised the catastrophic invasion of Castro’s Cuba. It is also mentioned that William Casey greased the wheels of the Iran-Contra affair, which “almost sank Ronald Reagan’s presidency.” The best according to the author was that William Webster, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, and John Brennan, have remained very close to the United States Presidents but never biased.

Tim Weiner’s book “Legacy of Ashes” remains the finest book about the CIA, but obviously, readers will not regret their time spent on this clear journalistic account, which relies heavily on interviews with living directors and a surprisingly huge number of surviving spouses, children, and associates.

The Spymasters recounts the past decades of CIA activities and elicits predictions about the major issues and threats that are worthy of attention and, that is what engages the readers’ attention for the future operatives and analysts. The unexcelled interviews not just include George Tenet, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and David Petraeus, but also those who’ve just recently departed the agency, this is a timely, essential, and important contribution to current events which strikingly portrays the most chaotic episodes of history which have taken so many lives and created disastrous situations for the state as well as the world in general.

Amongst the most illuminating bits of The Spymasters, one finds, director George Tenet’s fabrication of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as well as, the indication of the assassination attempt on President George H. W. Bush in 1993, during a visit to Kuwait. The plot was none other than Saddam Hussein’s – Iraq’s leader by then, and it adds an additional coating to George Jr.’s fixation on war with Iraq. Equally revelatory is the fact that the United States’ drone program is not operated by the military, but it is the CIA who is positioned to operate covertly outside of war zones, and the DCIA gives the go-ahead seconds before a Predator unleashes a Hellfire missile toward a target.

The book is an analysis of why and how intelligence fails and succeeds, the type of leaders that are required for the job, as well as what might befall the nation if the intelligence agency is not up to the task. He has discussed policy successes as well as intelligence failures.

This lively, opinionated history makes it clear that presidents and CIA directors sometimes deserve each other and most of the time stand for each other’s interests.

Thus, it discovered that it is almost impossible to overstate the significance of the position as the CIA director is the person the United States is dependent on to prevent another pearl harbor, or 9/11 and it is also impossible balancing act for the director to tell all the hard truths to the President and at the same time, they have to have his ear. CIA is the most powerful agency having strong links around the world and has piles of information at its disposal and killing machines at its fingertips this book has proved so much of the agency’s circulating stories or reports of uncertain or doubtful truths.

The book review appeared earlier in “World Geostrategic Insights?”


Zara Mansoor is an International Relations Scholar and Political Analyst based in Islamabad, Pakistan. Her area of work is International Security, Nuclear Proliferation, and Non-Proliferation. She contributes to various national and international newspapers, and magazines and can be reached at “”

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