10 books like A Question of Standing

By Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Question of Standing. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Book cover of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Taking the story from the endgame of the Cold War to the dawn of the War on Terror is this extraordinary book on the rise of Islamist terrorism and the CIA’s efforts to defeat it prior to 9/11. Coll’s research, based on interviews with a vast range of senior officials, is dazzling, yet it never overwhelms a narrative that combines human interest and geopolitical sweep seamlessly. No less impressive is his accomplishment in documenting not just the U.S. and Afghan perspectives but the Saudi and Pakistani as well, all in the same painstaking detail. If this whets the appetite for more of the same, Coll’s Directorate S resumes his account of the intelligence wars in Afghanistan, providing necessary background to understanding the failure of the U.S. occupation there.

Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ghost Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

The explosive, New York Times bestselling first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan

Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll has spent years reporting from the Middle East, accessed previously classified government files and interviewed senior US officials and foreign spymasters. Here he gives the full inside story of the CIA's covert funding of an Islamic jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, explores how this sowed the seeds of bn Laden's rise, traces how he built his global network and brings to life the dramatic battles within the US government over national security. Above all, he…


Cold Warrior

By Tom Mangold,

Book cover of Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton - The CIA's Master Spy Hunter

The history of the CIA features many fascinating personalities and there are several excellent spy biographies, Thomas Powers on Richard Helms, for example, or Randall Woods on William Colby. But the most complex and compelling of all figures in the Agency’s past must surely be the legendary head of counterintelligence, James Angleton. Again, there are numerous works on Angleton and his obsessive hunt for a top-level Soviet agent in the CIA, but I enjoyed and benefited most from Tom Mangold’s Cold Warrior, an astonishingly detailed and penetrating portrayal of America’s real-life George Smiley.

Cold Warrior

By Tom Mangold,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cold Warrior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Very Best Men

By Evan Thomas,

Book cover of The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared- The Early Years Of The CIA

The best book on the founding period of the CIA, the 1940s to the 1960s. Thomas is the only non-Agency employee to have been granted access to still-classified CIA historical studies, making this work an invaluable compendium of previously secret information. It’s also a wonderfully rich evocation of the rarified social world of the early CIA – East Coast, WASP, Ivy League – and a moving biographical portrait of a generation of intelligence officers whose early careers began in youthful idealism but all too often descended into disillusionment, disgrace, and even suicide. The gold standard of CIA history books.

The Very Best Men

By Evan Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Very Best Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Evan Thomas recreates the personal drama of four figures who risked everything to keep America out of war. They were Frank Wisner, Richard Bissell, Tracy Barnes and Desmond FitzGerald. Within the inner circles of Washington, at the high point of American power in the world, they planned and acted to contain the Soviet threat - by stealth and "political action", and to do by cunning and sleight of hand what great armies could not be allowed to do. The fall of each man had momentous consequences for the CIA. Thomas draws on the CIA's own secret histories, as well as…

The Cultural Cold War

By Frances Stonor Saunders,

Book cover of The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters

This book, about the CIA’s secret funding of art and culture in the Cold War battle for hearts and minds, caused a big stir on its publication in 2000. Written by a young British researcher, it scathingly criticized the Agency’s cultural operations (a source of some pride among intelligence veterans), arguing that they compromised and undermined the very artistic values they were supposed to defend. Several writers on the same subject since, myself included, have argued with aspects of her work, but Saunders’ research and storytelling are second to none. A harsh but hugely informative and entertaining account of one of the most intriguing chapters in the history of the Cold War.

The Cultural Cold War

By Frances Stonor Saunders,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cultural Cold War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the Cold War, freedom of expression was vaunted as liberal democracy's most cherished possession-but such freedom was put in service of a hidden agenda. In The Cultural Cold War, Frances Stonor Saunders reveals the extraordinary efforts of a secret campaign in which some of the most vocal exponents of intellectual freedom in the West were working for or subsidized by the CIA-whether they knew it or not.


Called "the most comprehensive account yet of the [CIA's] activities between 1947 and 1967" by the New York Times, the book presents shocking evidence of the CIA's undercover program of cultural interventions…


Circle of Treason

By Sandra Grimes, Jeanne Vertefeuille,

Book cover of Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed

Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Verterfeuille were part of the CIA team that identified Aldrich Ames, perhaps the most damaging spy in the agency’s history. Not only is the book a riveting account of the detective work that went into Ames’ arrest, it provides a wealth of information about the valuable agents and operations that he betrayed, and the incalculable damage he caused, including the loss of GRU General Dmitriy Polyakov, the highest-ranking spy run by the U.S. during the Cold War.

Circle of Treason

By Sandra Grimes, Jeanne Vertefeuille,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Circle of Treason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While there have been other books about Aldrich Ames, Circle of Treason is the first account written by CIA agents who were key members of the CIA team that conducted the intense "Ames Mole Hunt." Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille were two of the five principals of the CIA team tasked with hunting one of their own and were directly responsible for identifying Ames as the mole, leading to his arrest and conviction.

One of the most destructive traitors in American history, CIA officer Aldrich Ames provided information to the Soviet Union that contributed to the deaths of at least…


Molehunt

By David Wise,

Book cover of Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered the CIA

David Wise was the dean of American espionage writers, the author of more than a dozen well-regarded books about spies before his death in 2018, and Molehunt is my favorite. It tells the story of the James Angleton-inspired to hunt for a supposed mole within the CIA, an enormously damaging affair that paralyzed the agency for years. Wise’s books are so authoritative because of the unmatched sources he had in the intelligence community.

Molehunt

By David Wise,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Molehunt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Company

By Robert Littell,

Book cover of The Company: A Novel of the CIA

As I mentioned before, I am a history buff. This book traces the cold war and the CIA through the lives of three wonderful characters. A loyal agent, a Russian spy, and a mole in American intelligence are all done in a way that puts you in their shoes from the Cold War’s start through the demise of the Soviet Union. Littell keeps you on the edge of your seat while teaching you what actually happened. A must-read for spy aficionados.

The Company

By Robert Littell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Company as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling spy novel The Company lays bare the history and inner workings of the CIA. This critically acclaimed blockbuster from internationally renowned novelist Robert Littell seamlessly weaves together history and fiction to create a multigenerational, wickedly nostalgic saga of the CIA-known as "the Company" to insiders. Racing across a landscape spanning the legendary Berlin Base of the '50s, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Bay of Pigs, Afghanistan, and the Gorbachev putsch, The Company tells the thrilling story of agents imprisoned in double lives, fighting an amoral, elusive, formidable enemy-and each other-in an internecine battle within…

American Spy

By Lauren Wilkinson,

Book cover of American Spy

This book is probably best known for making Barack Obama’s summer reading list. The story of a Black American woman working for the FBI who gets recruited by the CIA for a Cold War mission to befriend, and ultimately undermine, the revolutionary president of Burkina Faso is the type of historical fiction I love, a spy thriller based on true events and taken directly from the headlines of the 1980s. Wilkinson brilliantly weaves together a story of race, class, gender, identity, and above all patriotism and loyalty.

American Spy

By Lauren Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A BARACK OBAMA SUMMER READING 2019 PICK

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 CENTRE FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE

'A whole lot more than just a spy thriller, wrapping together the ties of family, of love and of country' BARACK OBAMA

'There has never been anything like it' MARLON JAMES (GQ)

'A compelling read' MAIL ON SUNDAY

'Pacy and very exciting' DAILY TELEGRAPH
__________________________________

What if your sense of duty required you to betray the man you love?

It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War. Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She's brilliant and talented, but she's also…


The Man Who Kept the Secrets

By Thomas Powers,

Book cover of The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms And The CIA

This is a great book about former CIA Director Richard Helms and the agency he directed.  Helms was the quintessential CIA man, and Powers tells the story of his 30-year career in spying in this beautifully written book, which somehow captures both Helms’ elusiveness and his essence.

The Man Who Kept the Secrets

By Thomas Powers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Kept the Secrets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


CIA Improvised Sabotage Devices

By USA Government,

Book cover of CIA Improvised Sabotage Devices

Exploding wine bottles, guns constructed out of pipes, bullets made of teeth, aspirin explosives: If these sound like props from a B spy movie, it's because, again, truth > fiction. In the early-1970s, the Central Intelligence Agency spent a great deal of effort developing myriad weapons for sabotage. The results were this seventy-two-page illustrated manual, published in 1977 and distributed to American operatives likely to find themselves in situations requiring such improvisation. The manual is also invaluable for writers.

CIA Improvised Sabotage Devices

By USA Government,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked CIA Improvised Sabotage Devices as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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