Shadow Warrior by Randall B. Woods
William Egan Colby and the CIA

62%

5 Critic Reviews

Professor Woods occasionally shifts from a straightforward presentation of Mr. Colby’s view...to what appears to be the author’s own endorsement...on those few occasions suggests some (probably unintentional) selection bias.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

World War II commando, Cold War spy, and CIA director under presidents Nixon and Ford, William Egan Colby played a critical role in some of the most pivotal events of the twentieth century. A quintessential member of the greatest generation, Colby embodied the moral and strategic ambiguities of the postwar world, and first confronted many of the dilemmas about power and secrecy that America still grapples with today.

In Shadow Warrior, eminent historian Randall B. Woods presents a riveting biography of Colby, revealing that this crusader for global democracy was also drawn to the darker side of American power. Aiming to help reverse the spread of totalitarianism in Europe and Asia, Colby joined the U.S. Army in 1941, just as America entered World War II. He served with distinction in France and Norway, and at the end of the war transitioned into America’s first peacetime intelligence agency: the CIA. Fresh from the fight against fascism, Colby zealously redirected his efforts against international communism. He insisted on the importance of fighting communism on the ground, doggedly applying guerilla tactics for counterinsurgency, sabotage, surveillance, and information-gathering on the new battlefields of the Cold War. Over time, these strategies became increasingly ruthless; as head of the CIA’s Far East Division, Colby oversaw an endless succession of assassination attempts, coups, secret wars in Laos and Cambodia, and the Phoenix Program, in which 20,000 civilian supporters of the Vietcong were killed. Colby ultimately came clean about many of the CIA’s illegal activities, making public a set of internal reports—known as the “family jewels”—that haunt the agency to this day. Ostracized from the intelligence community, he died under suspicious circumstances—a murky ending to a life lived in the shadows.

Drawing on multiple new sources, including interviews with members of Colby’s family, Woods has crafted a gripping biography of one of the most fascinating and controversial figures of the twentieth century.
 

About Randall B. Woods

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Randall B. Woods is John A. Cooper Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas. Author or coauthor of ten books, including LBJ: Architect of American Ambition and Fulbright: A Biography, which won the Robert D. Ferrell Prize, Woods lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
 
Published April 9, 2013 by Basic Books. 579 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Shadow Warrior
All: 5 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Evan Thomas on May 03 2013

In intelligence, there is an ideal type of spy known as “the traditional gray man,” who can blend in anywhere...Colby “prided himself that he was just such a man,” Randall B. Woods says in this well-written, thoroughly researched and disarming biography.

Read Full Review of Shadow Warrior: William Egan ... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Harvey Klehr on Apr 13 2013

The conflicts that defined William Colby's life...still bedevil us. However wayward his path through this labyrinth, "Shadow Warrior" reminds us that there are no easy moral answers.

Read Full Review of Shadow Warrior: William Egan ... | See more reviews from WSJ online

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Harvey Klehr on Apr 12 2013

The conflicts that defined William Colby's life...still bedevil us. However wayward his path through this labyrinth, "Shadow Warrior" reminds us that there are no easy moral answers.

Read Full Review of Shadow Warrior: William Egan ... | See more reviews from WSJ online

NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Jerry Mark Silverman on Apr 06 2013

Professor Woods occasionally shifts from a straightforward presentation of Mr. Colby’s view...to what appears to be the author’s own endorsement...on those few occasions suggests some (probably unintentional) selection bias.

Read Full Review of Shadow Warrior: William Egan ... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Washington Times

Below average
Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden on May 10 2013

...a book that relies heavily upon secondary sources and offers very little fresh information about Colby. Further, Mr. Woods drops some conspiratorial hints that should raise eyebrows among those familiar with the intelligence world.

Read Full Review of Shadow Warrior: William Egan ... | See more reviews from Washington Times

Reader Rating for Shadow Warrior
80%

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