Cover image for Cloak and dollar : a history of American secret intelligence
Cloak and dollar : a history of American secret intelligence
Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 357 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JK468.I6 J4543 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
JK468.I6 J4543 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A history of American secret intelligence from the founding of the nation to the present day. Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones chronicles the extraordinary expansion of American secret intelligence from the 1790s, when George Washington set aside a discretionary fund for covert operations, to the beginning of the 21st century, when United States intelligence expenditure exceeds Russia's total defense budget.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Jeffreys-Jones, professor of American history at the University of Edinburgh, offers an anecdotal history of American intelligence from the era of George Washington to that of George W. Bush. This history is replete with provocative characters (Allan Pinkerton, J. Edgar Hoover) and covers a multitude of incidents, many notorious in their day, from the Zimmerman telegram of WWI to the Cuban missile crisis. The author sees all these people and events as connected by a single theme: a strain of hucksterism "smooth talk, hyperbole, deception" pervading U.S. intelligence efforts. For Jeffreys-Jones (The CIA and American Democracy), a leading authority on the history of American intelligence, the leaders of American intelligence have regularly "sheltered behind the veil of secrecy so vital to the promotion of false alarms and invented menaces." One example of this "con man" mentality is a tendency to reward failure. When intelligence agencies miss an important development, the upshot is a successful pitch for more money, more technology and more agents (this should sound familiar to post-9/11 ears). For Jeffreys-Jones, U.S. intelligence has chronically hyped its accomplishments and concealed its many failures, misleading the American people more often than it has baffled foreign enemies. The author's persistent invocation of the "con man" theme may actually do the book a disservice, opening the door to accusations of unfair exclusion of evidence contrary to the book's thesis. In fact, Jeffreys-Jones cites numerous instances of unobtrusive success by U.S. intelligence agencies, such as the breaking of Japanese codes in WWII. This account is more balanced in its content than the author's rhetoric might lead you to believe. (Apr.) Forecast: This is bound to feed into current discussions of the CIA's efficacy. Look for mention of it by policy commentators. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

The CIA, FBI, and Secret Service have typically been shrouded in a cloak of mystery. Often their accomplishments for good or ill have been embellished. Jeffreys-Jones (Univ. of Edinburgh) attempts to demystify these agencies by exposing common threads within them. In a lively and anecdote-studded history of the US secret services, Jeffreys-Jones highlights the role of the "confidence man," who for avaricious reasons exaggerated various "threats to the nation." From Allen Pinkerton, who concocted conspiracies to underscore his importance during the Civil War, to H.D. Hadley, who betrayed information to the Japanese all the while warning of the looming threat from East Asia, the intelligence agencies have shown a knack for self-promotion and hyperbole. This often created crises when none existed. Even when the services resorted to less flamboyant claims, Jeffreys-Jones asserts that the contributions have not always been stellar. Extremely entertaining and insightful. All levels. D. R. Turner Davis and Elkins College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Look Back in Terror: A Preface to the Second Editionp. xi
1. The American Spy Considered as a Confidence Manp. 1
2. The Washington Stylep. 11
3. Allan Pinkerton's Legacyp. 24
4. Did Wilkie Crush the Montreal Spy Ring?p. 44
5. U-1: The Agency Nobody Knewp. 60
6. Burns, Hoover, and the Making of an FBI Traditionp. 81
7. H. O. Yardley: The Traitor as Herop. 99
8. Pearl Harbor in Intelligence Historyp. 115
9. Hyping the Sideshow: Wild Bill Donovan and the OSSp. 131
10. Allen Dulles and the CIAp. 154
11. Cuba, Vietnam, and the Rhetorical Interludep. 179
12. Did Senator Church Reform Intelligence?p. 205
13. The Casey-Reagan Era: From History to Victoryp. 232
14. The Real American Century?p. 255
Abbreviations to Notesp. 289
Notesp. 291
Bibliographyp. 327
Indexp. 343