An Intriguing Life by Cynthia Helms
A Memoir of War, Washington, and Marriage to an American Spymaster

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Synopsis

From wartime England to Nixon’s America and beyond, Cynthia Helms was witness to some of the seminal events of our time—Vietnam, Watergate, and especially the demoralization of the CIA in the 1970s for political purposes. Opening with her feminist “epiphany” in 1968 (the annus horribilus as she describes it) that led her to end her first marriage of 24 years, this memoir reveals a world where appearances always had to be questioned, where rumors and gossip carried the weight of intrigue.

Helms grew up on a farm in Maldon, England and served as one of the original Boat Crew Wrens during World War II. She came to the United States after the war with her first husband, a physician. Her later marriage to Richard Helms introduced her to a world previously known only to her in books, not just the physical world from Mexico to Fiji to Iran, but also the world of a spymaster who enjoyed the confidence of some of the most important leaders of the late twentieth century. Her time as the ambassador’s wife in Tehran on the eve of the Iranian Revolution is especially telling, as she witnesses the charming but deeply flawed Shah slowly lose his way with his own people. Her “inside the beltway” observations are no less captivating, especially when her husband was being vilified by ambitious congressmen for events that happened long ago and far away and in a completely different national security context. Fascinating and highly readable, An Intriguing Life is a window to our most recent history.
 

About Cynthia Helms

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Cynthia Ratcliff Helms is the widow of Richard M. Helms, the director of intelligence for the United States. They were married for 34 years. She grew up on a farm in Maldon, England and served as one of the original Boat Crew Wrens during World War II. She came to the United States after the war with her first husband, a physician. Throughout her life, she has been involved in many civic and charitable causes. She was a founder of Concern Inc., a groundbreaking environmental organization aimed at women, and served on the board of the World Resources Institute for 15 years. She serves as an Honorary Trustee of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Museum and the Fund for the U.S. Botanical Gardens; and serves on the boards of the Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships and the Iraq Women’s Fellowship Foundation. She is the author of An Ambassador’s Wife in Iran (1981 Dodd, Mead & Co.) and Favourite Stories from Persia (1982 Heinemann Education Books.Chris Black is a writer and communications consultant. She was a political reporter for more than 30 years and worked at the Boston Globe and as a White House and Congressional Correspondent for Cable Network News (CNN).
 
Published December 16, 2012 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 224 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for An Intriguing Life

Publishers Weekly

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Readers eager for secret-spilling must content themselves instead with these engaging home and hearth reminisces from the veteran of Britain%E2%80%99s WWII all-female naval brigade who later became th

Jan 14 2013 | Read Full Review of An Intriguing Life: A Memoir ...

The Washington Times

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Cynthia Helms, now 90, has had a remarkable, if not, strictly speaking, an intriguing, life. If there's any person of note she hasn't met on either side of the Atlantic, it's not obvious from her book, co-written with Chris Black.

Jan 09 2013 | Read Full Review of An Intriguing Life: A Memoir ...

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