The Very Best Men

The Daring Early Years of the CIA

The Very Best Men tells the story of the four men who ran covert operations for the CIA from World War II to Vietnam.

Frank Wisner was a wealthy southern gentleman who arrived in Washington via Wall Street and whose wife ran the most active salon in Georgetown. Les mer
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The Very Best Men tells the story of the four men who ran covert operations for the CIA from World War II to Vietnam.

Frank Wisner was a wealthy southern gentleman who arrived in Washington via Wall Street and whose wife ran the most active salon in Georgetown. He was the creator of the Office of Policy Coordination, the CIA's covert action wing. Wisner helped foment the failed revolution in Hungary in 1956. Wisner had a breakdown, and committed suicide in 1965.

Richard Bissell took over the OPC after Wisner's breakdown, and presided over the Agency's wildest days. He ordered the assassination of several foreign leaders and organised a series of attempted coups. When John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960, Bissell introduced himself to the new president as 'your basic man-eating shark'. Five months later Bissell was forced to resign over the Bay of Pigs.

Tracy Barnes served under Wisner and Bissell, and oversaw the Bay of Pigs operation. With Bissell he hired the mafia to kill Castro. He was never at a loss for ideas. Unfortunately, he had trouble telling the good ones from the bad. He was quietly dismissed from the Agency in 1966.

Desmond Fitzgerald ran the secret wars in Laos and Tibet. Later, he organised assassination plots against Castro. He was also responsible for covering them up, fearing that the CIA would be linked to Kennedy's assassination.

Drawing on extensive interviews with former operatives, Thomas has written a highly readable narrative that brings to life a crucial period of American history.

About the Author
Evan Thomas is assistant managing editor of Newsweek. He has written more than a hundred cover stories on national and international news. He has won two National Magazine Awards and he has taught writing at Harvard and Princeton. He has written seven books, one of which, John Paul Jones, was a New York Times bestseller. He is a fellow of the Society of American Historians. He lives in Washington DC.

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