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The Quiet Americans

Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War - A Tragedy in Three Acts

Scott Anderson

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Picador
14 January 2021
At the end of World War II, the United States dominated the world militarily, economically, and in moral standing - seen as the victor over tyranny and a champion of freedom. But it was clear - to some - that the Soviet Union was already executing a plan to expand and foment revolution around the world. The American government's strategy in response relied on the secret efforts of a newly-formed CIA. The Quiet Americans chronicles the exploits of four spies - Michael Burke, a charming former football star fallen on hard times, Frank Wisner, the scion of a wealthy Southern family, Peter Sichel, a sophisticated German Jew who escaped the Nazis, and Edward Lansdale, a brilliant ad executive. The four ran covert operations across the globe, trying to outwit the ruthless KGB in Berlin, parachuting commandos into Eastern Europe, plotting coups, and directing wars against Communist insurgents in Asia. But time and again their efforts went awry, thwarted by a combination of stupidity and ideological rigidity at the highest levels of the government - and more profoundly, the decision to abandon American ideals. By the mid-1950s, the Soviet Union had a stranglehold on Eastern Europe, the U.S. had begun its disastrous intervention in Vietnam, and America, the beacon of democracy, was overthrowing democratically-elected governments and earning the hatred of much of the world. All of this culminated in an act of betrayal and cowardice that would lock the Cold War into place for decades to come. Anderson brings to the telling of this story all the narrative brio, deep research, skeptical eye, and lively prose that made Lawrence in Arabia a major international bestseller. The intertwined lives of these men began in a common purpose of defending freedom, but the ravages of the Cold War led them to different fates. Two would quit the CIA in despair, stricken by the moral compromises they had to make; one became the archetype of the duplicitous and destructive American spy; and one would be so heartbroken he would take his own life. The Quiet Americans is the story of these four men. It is also the story of how the United States, at the very pinnacle of its power, managed to permanently damage its moral standing in the world.
By:   Scott Anderson
Imprint:   Picador
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 46mm
Weight:   744g
ISBN:   9781529042481
ISBN 10:   1529042488
Pages:   576
Publication Date:   14 January 2021
Recommended Age:   From 18 years
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Scott Anderson is the author of two novels and four works of nonfiction, including Lawrence in Arabia, an international bestseller which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book. A veteran war correspondent, he writes frequently for the New York Times Magazine.

Reviews for The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War - A Tragedy in Three Acts

In this sweeping, vivid, beautifully observed book, Scott Anderson unearths the devastating secret history of how the United States lost the plot during the Cold War. By focusing on the twisty, colorful lives of four legendary spies, Anderson distills the larger geopolitical saga into an intimate story of flawed but talented men, of the 'disease of empires,' and of the inescapable moral hazard of American idealism and power. It's a hell of a book, with themes about the unintended consequences of espionage and interventionism that still resonate, powerfully, today. -- Patrick Radden Keefe, author of <i>The New York Times</i> bestseller and Orwell Prize-winning <i>Say Nothing</i>


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