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The Hidden Hand: A Brief History of the CIA

Richard H. Immerman

ISBN: 978-1-444-35136-1 April 2014 Wiley-Blackwell 264 Pages


The Hidden Hand is a succinct accessible and up-to-date survey of the Central Intelligence Agency’s history from its inception in 1947 to the present.

  • Covers both aspects of the CIA’s mission – the collection and analysis of intelligence and the execution of foreign policy through covert, paramilitary operations
  • De-mythologizes the CIA’s role in America’s global affairs while addressing its place within American political and popular culture
  • Written by an esteemed scholar and high-ranking officer in the intelligence community, drawing on the latest research
  • Assesses the agency’s successes and failures, with an eye to the complex and controversial nature of the subject

Preface and Acknowledgments ix

Note on Redactions xiii

1 Birth of an Enigma: 1945–1949 1

2 Halcyon Days and Growing Pains: 1950–1961 35

3 The CIA and its Discontents: 1961–1976 70

4 A Time of Troubles: 1977–1987 108

5 Victory Without Redemption: 1988–2000 138

6 9/11, WMD, GWOT, IRTPA, and ODNI: 2001–2004 172

7 Crisis of Identity: 2005–2013 206

Index 235

“I highly recommend Immerman’s history as a corrective.”  (Journal of American History, 3 January 2016)

"Written in clear terms with excellent summaries of complex events, The Hidden Hand makes a mass of history and bureaucratic strife manageable to newcomers of the subject. ...The redactions in this volume serve as an introduction for would-be scholars to the risks of researching so close to the circles of power and authority."  (Intelligence and National Security, 6 February 2015)

“Richard H. Immerman, who teaches the history of American foreign policy and intelligence at Temple University, has produced a fine, concise history of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The Hidden Handhas three major virtues: it is fair-minded, readable and up-to-date, including a useful insider’s analysis of how the creation of the new position of National Director of Intelligence (NDI) in 2005 has affected the role of the CIA and its director.”  (Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 1 January 2015)

“Meantime, as far as the book under review is concerned, It’s a very well written piece of history and well referenced with numerous end-of-chapter source notes.”  (Nurturing Potential, 1 March 2014)