Flawed Patriot: The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey.

Author:Rayle, Robert
Position::Book review
 
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Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot: The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey, Potomac Books, Dulles, VA, 357 pages, $28.95

Bill Harvey was arguably America's most competent and effective intelligence and counter-intelligence officer of the past century, and possibly its most controversial. Flawed Patriot, Bayard Stockton's ambitious biography of Harvey, is an extensively researched compilation of information from all phases of Harvey's life, including his youth, his FBI service during and after World War II, his emergence as a leading figure with the CIA in the intelligence battles of the Cold War, his management of the Agency's anti-Castro Cuban operations program, and finally the forced retirement that left him under a cloud of suspicion and a target of criticism. The author's sources include official government records, unofficial publications, and interviews with Harvey's family, friends, former colleagues, critics, enemies, and detractors.

Harvey is revealed as a man of tremendous gifts of intelligence, analytical skill, and leadership. He possessed enormous energy and an incredible work ethic. He inspired a generation of intelligence officers and trained a talented group that went on over the next 25 years to become the top leaders and managers of CIA. Yet he comes across as a classical tragic figure, having in his own personality the seeds of his eventual downfall. His persistent troubles with his superiors, most notably J. Edgar Hoover and Bobby Kennedy, and his devotion to the five-martini lunch, kept him from getting the recognition and honors he richly deserved.

Flawed Patriot is at its best in the early chapters, in its discussion of Harvey's remarkable early career with the FBI, where he became a legend even before he came to work for the CIA, and in its description of his years as the CIA's chief of base, Berlin, where he solidified his legend status as the force behind the famous "Berlin Tunnel." The book is at its weakest in the later chapters, after Harvey's removal as chief of Cuban operations and as the leader of the effort to assassinate Castro. In these chapters the author indulges in unsupported speculation on...

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