Historical Dictionary of United States Intelligence

Title:                      Historical Dictionary of United States Intelligence

Author:                 Michael A. Turner

Turner, Michael A. (2014). Historical Dictionary of United States Intelligence, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield

LCCN:    2014013697

JK468.I6 T863 2014 Alc


Date Posted:      September 1, 2015

Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake.[1]

In the nearly ten years since the first edition of this book was published[2], former CIA officer Michael Turner has worked to bring it up to date and correct errors. His criterion for including entries was that they be “the most relevant items important to American intelligence.” (p. ix) There are more than 100 additional pages in this edition, including a detailed list of acronyms, a valuable chronology, a comprehensive bibliography, and a short summary of American intelligence history.

Though more error-free than the first edition, some remain. For example, neither Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) nor the American OSS launched Jedburgh Teams behind enemy lines in 1943 (p. xxvi): they didn’t go in until 1944. NSA was not established by Congress in 1952 or in any other year; President Harry Truman created it by classified presidential memorandum on 24 October 1952. There are also a few terminological errors, as, for example, calling Rudolf Abel a Soviet illegal agent (he was a KGB officer). The topic of the Cambridge spies, covered only in the entry on Kim Philby, also requires clarification:

Philby’s father was not an aristocrat, and SIS did reinstate Philby as a contract agent. His service in Lebanon was not as a freelance agent; he worked for the Observer and The Economist. Donald Maclean never worked for Soviet intelligence, and John Cairncross, who did, is not mentioned. Finally, some of the most important espionage cases in American history have been omitted. Examples include Elizabeth Bentley, Aleksandr Ogorodnikov, Yuri Nosenko, and Adolf Tolkachev. While the discrepancies are not earthshaking; they do suggest fact-checking would be wise when using this dictionary as a source.

Overall, this edition of the Historical Dictionary of American Intelligence is much improved.

[1] Hayden Peake, “Intelligence Officer Bookshelf,” The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Stuidies (21, 2, Spring/Summer 2015, p. 118). Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of his reviews cited have appeared in recent unclassified editions of ClA’s Studies in Intelligence. These and many other reviews and articles may be found online at http://www.cia.gov

[2] Turner, Michael A. (2006). Historical dictionary of United States Intelligence. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press [LCCN: 2005016699]

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