Title: The CIA
Author: William Blum
Blum, William (1986). The CIA: A Forgotten History. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Zed Books
- Note: This book is in a second edition with the title Killing Hope.
Date Updated: December 13, 2016
William Blum has without doubt makes a significant contribution to the history of the Cold War. Furthermore, his account in this book shows that the guiding logic of the CIA is as applicable today as it was in the days of the USSR. Foreign policy, as Kissenger said, is most definitely not about “missionary work”, rather being formulated in the interests of the ruling elite in the USA.
The main point arising from this book is that what a country does, and what it says it does, rarely coincide (in this way states are very similar to normal people). Lifting the veil of successive US governments’ benign rhetoric, Blum reveals undercurrents or pure greed and savagery. International Relations can only be truly understood by following the interests of interested players, rather than politicians’ vacuous pontifications.
The maxim of “follow the money” can be applied to Blum’s methodology—charting the rise of murderous and fascist regimes against the profitability of US investors.
Although much of what Blum claims to have happened is unverifiable, being based on secret concordats, gentlemen’s agreements and sometimes hearsay, his collection, corroboration and systematization of sources does much to counter this.
Blum can lay no claim to the absolute truth (though who can?), but his account of the CIA is closer to the mark than any otherofficial history. In effect, Blum is asking his readers to pose a simple question: what motivates organizations such as the CIA? Is it the wishy-washy benign do-gooder rhetoric of career politicians? Or the cool calculations of material self-interest. Blum’s convincing analysis would have us accept the latter.
 Blum, William (1995, 2008). Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II–Updated Through 2003. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press