Cover image for Creating the secret state : the origins of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1943-1947
Creating the secret state : the origins of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1943-1947
Rudgers, David F., 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, [2000]

Physical Description:
244 pages ; 24 cm
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JK468.I6 R83 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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While much has been disclosed about the CIA's cloak-and-dagger activities during the Cold War, relatively little is known about the origins of this secret organization. David Rudgers, a twenty-two-year CIA veteran, has written the first complete account of its creation, revealing how the idea of a centralized intelligence developed within the government and debunking the myth that former OSS chief William J. Donovan was the prime mover behind the agency's founding.

Creating the Secret State locates the CIA's origins in government-wide efforts to reorganize national security during the transition from World War II to the Cold War. Rudgers maintains that the creation of the CIA was not merely the brainchild of "Wild Bill" Donovan. Rather, it was the culmination of years of negotiation among numerous policy makers such as James Forrestal and Dean Acheson, each with strong opinions regarding the agency's mission and methods. He shows that Congress, the Departments of State and Justice, the Joint Chiefs, and even the Budget Bureau all had a hand in the establishment of this "secret state" that operates nearly invisibly outside the American political process.

Based almost entirely on archival and other primary sources, Rudgers's book describes in detail how the CIA evolved from its original purpose-as a watchdog to guard against a "nuclear Pearl Harbor"-to the role of clandestine warriors countering Soviet subversion, eventually engaging in more forms of intelligence gathering and covert operations than any of its counterparts. It suggests how the agency became a different organization than it might have been without the Communist threat and also shows how it both overexaggerated the dangers of the Cold War and failed to predict its ending.

Rudgers has written an accurate and balanced account that brings America's undercover army in from the cold and out from under the cult of personality. An indispensable resource for future studies of the CIA, Creating the Secret State tells the inside story of why and how the agency was called into existence as it stimulates thinking about the future relevance of the CIA in a rapidly changing world.

Author Notes

David F. Rudgers was formerly a staff archivist for the National Archives and a senior intelligence analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

World War II forced the United States to recognize the need for more sophisticated intelligence gathering as the war progressed. The energy of William "Wild Bill" Donovan, who oversaw the creation of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, led ultimately to the creation in 1947 of the Central Intelligence Agency. Rudgers worked as an intelligence analyst with the CIA for 14 years. Here he offers an impressive history of the complex negotiations among the various branches of both the military and the government that took place between 1943 and 1947 as it became increasingly apparent that the United States would need an agency that could operate quietly yet effectively in ferreting out the world's espionage secrets beyond what the FBI or the military could do. Previous histories have often focused on the vivid character of Donovan. This outstanding piece of scholarship, based on solid, primary research, takes a broader approach. It should be considered essential reading for anyone interested in gaining an understanding of the political, historical, and theoretical background to the establishment of the CIA. Highly recommended.DEdward Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Rudgers, who served with the Central Intelligence Agency for 22 years as senior intelligence analyst, has written the most thorough account so far of its origins. In the process he downplays the role of General William J. ("Wild Bill") Donovan, chief of the Office of Strategic Service during WW II, who has long been credited with establishing the CIA just after the war ended. (See, for example, Thomas Troy, Donovan and the CIA, 1981.) Working extensively in a variety of archives--the CIA, the State, Navy, and War Departments, the Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman papers--Rudgers shows how the CIA emerged from the interplay among a good many elements in the federal bureaucracy, including the Bureau of the Budget. Though the prose takes on the character of a clearly written government draft rather than an engrossing narrative, Rudgers ably shows the prominent role of a good many people whose names have never been linked with what has been called "the company," including for example, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, jealous over turf, and Harvard historian William L. Langer, who kept pressing the need for a national intelligence system. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate collections. J. D. Doenecke; University of South Florida

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1. The Dual Road to Central Intelligencep. 5
2. General Donovan Proposesp. 19
3. ... And Harry Truman Disposesp. 33
4. The State Department and Central Intelligencep. 47
5. Designing a Postwar Systemp. 63
6. The Central Intelligence Debatep. 93
7. Establishing a Structurep. 109
8. Legislating a New Orderp. 129
9. The Emergence of Central Intelligencep. 149
10. Ends and Beginningsp. 181
Notesp. 187
Bibliographyp. 223
Indexp. 229