Top critical review
A Detailed Time Line, but little insight into the Man or his Creations
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on March 1, 2016
Wild Bill Donovan was quite a character who had the misfortune to live in very interesting times. Dunlop's book, however, does not tell the tale in a fascinating way, rather it is almost like a timeline of Donovan's life. I guess researchers might be interested in Donovan's exploits in WWI, but those war tales give little insight into Donovan's later activities as Roosevelt's special emissary and the father of the OSS/CIA. From the Title, I was expecting Donovan's WWII activities with the OSS to be the focus of the book and was expecting more discussion of espionage. Instead, Dunlop delivers a detailed chronology of Donovan's mostly public fact finding tours and provides little detail of the spy missions supervised by Donovan.
It was interesting to be reminded just how personal politics and diplomacy were in the 30s and 40s and the descriptions of Donovan's interactions with Roosevelt give some real insight into Roosevelt's thought process and management style. Unfortunately, we don't get much more description of Donovan's thought process and management style, except to get repeated reminders of his energy, hard work, patriotism, and coy references to Donovan's dalliances with attractive women.
In any event the book provides a useful reminder of what happened in the thirties and forties, and provides a lot of detail regarding Donovan's participation in important events, even if it sometimes it seems that the focus is on the events rather than on than on Donovan's contributions.
I only give the book three stars because while the book is informative, it is just not that entertaining. Spies, Espionage, Sex and Politics should be much more entertaining.