Portrait of A Cold Warrior

Title:                      Portrait of A Cold Warrior

Author:                Joseph Burkholder Smith

Smith, Joseph Burkholder (1976). Portrait of A Cold Warrior. New York: Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    76013567

JK468.I6 S525 1976


Date Updated:  March 2, 2017

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

“Little Joe,” as he was known in CIA, served as an officer of that agency from 1950 until he resigned in 1973. He saw duty in a number of countries in the Far East and Latin America. He has produced a book on CIA operations as seen from the perspective of the case officer that gives the reader the feel and smell of operations that only an insider and veteran can impart. There are many operations and agents disclosed: covert operations involving propaganda, the influencing of elections, involvement in coups, the recruitment of journalists, the countering of Soviet and communist activities. Smith packs the book with details, indicating either amazing recall or the keeping of private notes over the years. Though he divulges secrets, he does not sympathize with the likes of Philip Agee; in fact, he remarks on “the treachery of Agee and his friends.” In his view, CIA is needed, but a leaner, less bureaucratic CIA under greater Congressional control. So, too, does he see the need for some covert activities. Smith fails to clarify adequately his motives for publishing this autobiography, which the New York Times review felt contained a distastefully self-pitying quality. If he had explained himself, the reader would have been in a better position to judge the objectivity of his opinions. Those most familiar with his career thought he was accurate on the general outlines of the operations he describes; there was disagreement with the nuances and a feeling that he magnified his own role in certain instances.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[2]

An engaging account of the author’s career during twenty-two years as a covert action specialist in the CIA’s Clandestine Services in Asia and Latin America. A handbook of covert action techniques, adequately supplied with autobiographical descriptions of the constant battle between the CIA and the Soviet KGB. Describes black propaganda operations during the Bay of Pigs.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp.

[2] 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. 214


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2 Responses to Portrait of A Cold Warrior

  1. Pingback: CIA: Covert Operations, Chapter 19 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: Company Confessions | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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