Title: I Was An American Spy
Author: Sidney Forrester Mashbir
Mashbir, Sidney Forrester (1953). I Was An American Spy. New York: Vantage Press
Date Updated: September 15, 2016
Reviewed by George C. Constantinides
Mashbir had the distinction of being one of the first officers selected by the U.S. Army to study the Japanese language after World War I. In Japan he acquired the language, which later led to his leading the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS) on MacArthur’s intelligence staff. ATIS handled captured documents and the interrogation of prisoners as an allied, interservice group. He also did some propaganda broadcasting in Japanese. Admiral Zacharias in Secret Missions praised Mashbir, a contemporary, and his plan for intelligence collection against the Japanese in time of war, which was never implemented. The contents of this autobiography are much less dramatic than the title implies. Written at a time of turmoil in the United States on the question of responsibility for postwar international developments, the book contains much in the category of personal and political testimony. Barton Whaley called it the superpatriotic memoirs of an eccentric and a U.S. intelligence pioneer. Its value lies in the fact that it is one of the few books on U.S. intelligence against Japan covering the post-World War I era. The reader will note Mashbir’s account of the tapping of telephone lines in Mexico as well as rumors about massive Japanese infiltration of the United States via that country during World War I. For a discussion of Mashbir’s claim that he and Zacharias prepared the first draft and implementing directives for the later CIA, see Troy’s Donovan and the CIA.
Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf
The story of o remarkable military intelligence career, spanning thirty-five years as a Notional Guardsman, Regular, Reserve, and Army of the United States (AUS) officer, beginning as an intelligence specialist in the Mexican trouble in 1916 through the surrender of Japan in 1945. He was a language and area student in Japan for several years, engaged in intelligence during the period between the wars, and during World War II developed and headed the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATlS) of MacArthur’s intelligence staff, one of the best and most successful intelligence activities of the war. Along with Zacharias’ Secret Missions (see ref. 2 above), this is one of the best books available on intelligence against Japan. Like Zacharias, Moshbir engaged in psychological warfare planning against the homeland of Japan, as well as against troops in the field.
Further review by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf
Memoirs of an army colonel whose intelligence career began on the Mexican border in 1916 and culminated in the G-2 section of General MacArthur’s headquarters in the Pacific.
 Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 318-319
 Zacharias, Ellis M. (1946, 2003). Secret Missions: The Story of An Intelligence Officer. Annapolis, Md. : Naval Institute Press
 Troy, Thomas F. (1981). Donovan and the CIA: A History of the Establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency. Frederick, MD: Aletheia Books
 Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 65
 Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 148