The Making And Breaking of An American Spy

Title:                      The Making And Breaking Of An American Spy

Author:                 James A. Everett

Everett, James A. (2011). The Making And Breaking of An American Spy. Durham, CT: Strategic Book Group

OCLC:                    747036638



Date Updated:  March 21, 2017

In this memoir, author James Everett tells the story of his 17-year career in the CIA as an officer under non-official cover (NOC). That means he had a regular job with a commercial company while carrying out espionage duties in 35 countries. Everett says he wrote the book for two reasons . The first was to convey a “better understanding about how intelligence works … and shouldn’t work.” (p. v) The second and more important reason, Everett writes, is to tell his “tale of betrayal: betrayal of the American government to fulfill its promises to one of its spies.” (p. vi)

The original draft of the book was completed in the late 1980s and submitted for review. Substantial changes were requested. Everett was unwilling to make them, and he put the manuscript aside for nearly 20 years. The project was revived and revised with encouragement and help of a friend, and again submitted for review. Everett dwells at some length on both review sequences, making clear his reluctance to accept the restrictions imposed.

The story itself is a chronological narrative: recruitment, training—Philip Agee was in his class-selection as a NOC, and his various assignments. Everett sympathetically returns to Agee later in the book, making clear that he accepts Agee’s contention that he was never a KGB agent. This and other claims Everett makes raise questions about the depth of his research. For example, he incorrectly asserts that Gen. Walter B. Smith was the first DCI; that Allen Dulles was DCI from 1961 to 1973; and that the US government had advance knowledge of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and did not disseminate the information in a “correct and timely manner.” (pp. viii, x)

The balance of the book, however, is a forthright discussion of how Everett raised a family and managed his commercial job while conducting his clandestine assignments for many years in Sweden and the Netherlands. Things went well until Watergate. During the investigation that followed, it was revealed that E. Howard Hunt worked for the same firm as Everett. In the end, the clandestine relationship with the company was severed and Everett’s service with the CIA was terminated. He describes in considerable detail the trouble he had negotiating a retirement settlement. Everett left, a bitter man.

In the final chapter Everett discusses his public activities against covert action, but he doesn’t call for the demise of the CIA. Instead he encourages reforms that reflect his views.

The Making and Breaking of an American Spy is a sad personal story that conveys the difficult life of NOC officers.

Good luck trying to find the book in a library. I found only three libraries in the US that have the book, and it is not listed in the Library of Congress.

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2 Responses to The Making And Breaking of An American Spy

  1. Just ordered his book. We corresponded with Everett years ago about Mormonism and the CIA. We wrote about it in our little newspaper, The Salt Lake City Messenger, in November 1980 [No.44] and Feb. 1981 [No. 45].

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