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The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War Paperback – May 25, 2021

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,316 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of September 2020: Scott Anderson’s The Quiet Americans is a deeply-researched history that reads like a character driven novel. At the end of World War II, the United States began turning its attention to the Soviet Union, and the relatively new CIA became integral to the covert effort to confront the Soviets. Much as he did in his epic Lawrence in Arabia, Anderson focuses on the experiences of a handful of men in order to tell the wider story. The result is both intimate and sweeping. Anderson follows four agents whose work was spread across the globe, initially directed at maintaining American ideals, but eventually decaying under the weight of politics, myopia, and overreach. Each of these men bore great costs for the work they did in the CIA. As they were altering the course of world events, the work was altering—sometimes quite severely—the courses of their lives. –Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review
Editors' pick:
The Quiet Americans is both sweeping and intimate, showing how decisions that we view as geopolitical can have very human consequences."—Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor

Review

A New York Times Notable Book

ENTHRALLING...Lying and stealing and invading, it should be said, make for captivating reading, especially in the hands of a storyteller as skilled as Anderson...the climate of fear and intolerance that it describes in Washington also feels uncomfortably timely. "
The New York Times Book Review

“Anderson’s look at four men who ran covert operations around the globe after World War II is
AS THRILLING AS IT IS TRAGIC, as each man confronts the moral compromises he made in the name of democracy.”
The Washington Post
 
“A
DARKLY ENTERTAINING tale about American espionage, set in an era when Washington’s fear and skepticism about the agency resembles our climate today.“
The New York Times

“In his skillful and fascinating “The Quiet Americans”…Mr. Anderson ingeniously tells his story through the entwined sagas of four of the secret service’s most adept and intrepid operatives”
Wall Street Journal 

“This intriguing book is an indictment. From its first page it argues that the CIA lost its way, in all senses, in the first decade of the cold war. Its witnesses are four courageous and initially idealistic patriots. Frank Wisner oversaw some of the earliest efforts to “roll back” communism in Europe. Michael Burke was a daredevil figure in the same game. Edward Lansdale was an éminence grise in the Far East. Peter Sichel, a German-born Jewish wine-merchant and Wunderkind—and the only one of the four still alive—held his nose as he co-opted former Nazis into the agency, an initiative cited as one of its original sins....Many of the CIA’s failures stemmed from familiar shortcomings. ‘We all have this tendency to look for information that confirms our beliefs and to ignore what conflicts with them,” explains Mr Sichel. “It’s very hard to give somebody information he doesn’t want to hear, and the more senior they are, the worse it is.
The Economist

"In this sweeping, vivid, beautifully observed book, Scott Anderson unearths the devastating secret history of how the Unites 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 SAY NOTHING

“[A] highly entertaining history of four Cold War spies...”
Evan Thomas, Air Mail
 
“Anderson delivers a complex, massively scaled narrative, balancing prodigious research with riveting storytelling skills…Over the course of the narrative, the author amply shows how the CIA was increasingly pushed to function as an instrument of politically charged ambitions. An engrossing history of the early days of the CIA.”
Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
 
"Anderson notes the harrowing emotional cost on his subjects…as the U.S. threw its support behind autocratic leaders and missed opportunities to aid legitimate liberation movements such as the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Such blunders, Anderson writes, recast the U.S. from WWII savior to “one more empire in the mold of all those that had come before.” Laced with vivid character sketches and vital insights into 20th-century geopolitics, this stand-out chronicle helps to make sense of the world today."
Publishers Weekly (Starred)

"Anderson weaves his narrative among the lives of his subjects, highlighting aspects of their livelihoods as American spies that were at times equally frustrating, ridiculous, and chillingly dangerous…A fascinating and compulsively readable account of wartime spying."
Library Journal
 
 
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Anchor; Reprint edition (May 25, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 608 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1101911735
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1101911730
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.22 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.13 x 1.22 x 7.97 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,316 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
1,316 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 11, 2022
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 28, 2021
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 12, 2021
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Top reviews from other countries

J. C. Mareschal
4.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of the cold war at ground level
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on June 30, 2021
Bruce W Drake
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and illuminating
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on November 3, 2020
Ginger Goodwin
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but not very critical
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on November 5, 2020
Georg Erwin Thaller
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the CIA
Reviewed in Germany 🇩🇪 on November 14, 2020
Randini
5.0 out of 5 stars Affirming
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on April 21, 2022