Stories from Langley

Title:                      Stories from Langley

Author:                 Edward Mickolus

Mickoilus, Edward (2014) ed. Stories from Langley: A Glimpse Inside The CIA. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books, An imprint of the University of Nebraska Press

LCCN:    2014020677

JK468.I6 S755 2014


  • Careers in intelligence analysis / Volko F. Ruhnke — The best speech I ever gave, the best thing I ever wrote / Martin Petersen — Working with words and enjoying the view / John Hollister Hedley — Never boring, often meaningful, and almost fun / Henry Appelbaum — Briefing presidential candidates / John Helgerson — The Soviets go on the LAMM / Michael D. Flint and Boyd Sutton — Making the world safe through SAFE / Michael D. Flint — Getting the facts right / Tony Williams — An economist’s look at the Soviet Union, and beyond / Robert E. Leggett — Two of the “coolest” things I did working for the CIA / Robert Blackwell — A cold war CIA analyst remembers / Anne Campbell Gruner — Reminiscences of a checkered past / Nicholas Starr — Reflections on an eclectic CIA career / Alan More — A geographer looks back at 50 years with the CIA / Will Rogers — An “out-of-body experience” : seeing the DI with new eyes / Jon Nowick — Peasant at the creation : the agency’s first terrorism analyst and beyond / Edward Mickolus — Satellite imagery and the Afghan Task Force / Tom Sheridan — Slideshow / Jeri DiGiulio — Meanwhile, in Asia… / Merrily Baird — On planet Congress / Martin Petersen — In support, you never know where you might end up and what you might learn along the way / Dan King — What is a promise worth? / Dan King — An adventure in the Far East / Robert A. Morgan Jr — First tour adventures : the mysterious case of the missing missionary / Hugh S. Pettis — Out of the barn, into the beltway / Hazel Harrison — Ed and a secretary : how I ended up at the CIa / Martin Petersen — Traveling with the president / Frank Ryan — Kh601 / Richard Irwin — Our man in Havana’s jails : temporary duty assignment in Hell / Walter E. Szuminski — Operation Oshima / John Behling — The other side of the CIA : my life as a CIA analyst / Gregor S.


Date Updated:  May 11, 2017

Caveat. Perpendat itaque lector cavendum (civilis).[1]

Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake[2]

It would be close to impossible in the Internet age not to have read or heard about the CIA, most often in connection with espionage or covert action rather than the technical and administrative support functions essential to such operations. Similarly, when media attention does mention the analytic functions of the agency, the focus is on intelligence estimates, which represent the end of the analytic process rather than theanalysts and what they do to produce these estimates. In Stories from Langley, former CIA intelligence officer Ed Mickolus has collected a series of analyst and support officer reminiscences that seek to remedy these deficiencies.

The 32 stories included range in length from one to nearly 100 pages. The latter deals with a three-man technical surveillance support team sent to Cuba during the Kennedy administration on temporary duty. Operating under flimsy cover, their mission was to place listening devices in an embassy. They were captured, spent 949 days in Castro’s jails, and never broke cover. Three days after returning, their CIA status leaked to the press. Walter Szuminski, the surviving member of the trio, recalls his experiences in the chapter entitled, “Our Man in Havana’s Jails—A Temporary Duty Assignment in Hell.”

In another story from the same era, Hazel Harrison recollects her life on a Virginia farm with “no telephone, no bathroom, and no television.” (p. 225) Starting in the agency as a secretary, without a college degree, she went on to supervisory positions in logistics, serving at Headquarters and overseas. She is candid about the problems women encountered in those days and explains how she dealt with them.

With degrees in geology from the University of Virginia and Yale and unsatisfied with his experiences in the commercial world, Nick Starr applied to the CIA because of the variety of opportunities offered. His 32-year career included service in the operations center, work as an arms control analyst, duty in the Counterintelligence Center and on the Intelligence Community Staff. Perhaps his most haunting experience was being shot by Aimal Kasi as he waited to enter the Headquarters compound in 1993; two other officers were killed in the assault. With that one exception, he enjoyed “every minute” of his career.

Among the other fascinating accounts, readers will find stories from a former national intelligence officer on the Soviet Union, an analyst who became the agency’s executive director, a former head of the infamous Publications Review Board (PRB), an inspector general, a Vietnam veteran who served as an analyst in DIA and CIA, and an analyst who worked with Paul Nitze and stood her ground when her judgment differed from that of her immediate supervisor—she was right.

Stories from Lang ley is just a small sampling of the varied careers CIA analysts and support officers experience—a valuable, unusual, and positive addition to the intelligence literature.

[1] On occasion, personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance — at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations, the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed. Retain a sense of proportion in all online and in-person discussions. [From The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies.]

[2] Peake, Hayden in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (21, 3, Fall/Winter 2015, pp. 117-118). 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 these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence, Other reviews and articles may be found online at


This entry was posted in CIA and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Stories from Langley

  1. Pingback: Company Confessions | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s