A revelatory new biography of the sinister, powerful, and paranoid man at the heart of the CIA for more than three tumultuous decades.
Legendary head of the CIA James Jesus Angleton was one of the most powerful unelected government officials in American history. Virtually untouchable, he operated beyond the view of the public, Congress, and even the president himself.
In this gripping biography — the first in over 20 years — investigative reporter Jefferson Morley reveals the man behind the myths: from Angleton’s friendship with the poets Ezra Pound and TS Eliot, to his links with the underground gay milieu of mid-century Washington; from the intelligence secrets he unwittingly shared with British double agent Kim Philby, to his obstruction of the investigation into the JFK assassination; and from his initiation of the US’s first foray into mass surveillance of its citizens, to his obsession with hunting for communist moles — a search that nearly destroyed the Agency.
Yet during Angleton’s seemingly lawless reign, he also proved himself to be a formidable adversary to America’s enemies, acquiring a mythic stature within the CIA that continues to this day. Here, Morley uses exclusive interviews with colleagues and friends, and never-before-seen correspondence, to piece together a detailed and fascinating portrait of one of the most influential spies of our times.
‘The best book ever written about the strangest CIA chief who ever lived. No screenwriter or novelist could conjure a character like Angleton, but Morley's stellar reporting and superb writing animate every page of this work. It's essential history and highly entertaining biography.’
Tim Weiner, National Book Award winning author of Legacy of Ashes
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‘Anyone interested in the CIA should not fail to read The Ghost. I encountered James Angleton time and again, not only in the course of research but, one memorable evening, literally. I say ‘memorable,’ but only because ? amongst hundreds of interviews I have conducted ? he indeed came over as a phantom, seemingly cooperative yet always inscrutable. Nobody has focused on him, mined what can be mined, as Jefferson Morley has now done. Essential reading for anyone intrigued by the vital mysteries of U.S. intelligence at a pivotal time in our history.’
Anthony Summers, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Eleventh Day
‘Americans are finally coming to know the Cold War spymasters and other hidden figures who lived their lives in secrecy while shaping our national destiny. The Ghost reveals a fascinating chapter of this hidden history. It is a chilling look at the global power that is wielded in Washington by people who are never known — until a book comes out to spill their secrets.’
Stephen Kinzer, author of The Brothers
‘The Ghost is the compulsively readable, often bizarre true-life story of American spymaster James Jesus Angleton — the CIA’s poetry-loving, orchid-gardening mole-hunter for almost 20 years. Capturing the extent of Angleton’s eccentricity, duplicity and alcohol-fueled paranoia would have challenged the writing skills of a Le Carré or Ludlum, and Jeff Morley has done it with flair. This important book depicts the trail of wreckage left behind by Angleton in a CIA career that involved him in virtually every major spy-versus-spy drama of the Cold War and drew him deeply into the mysteries of the Kennedy assassination and the murder of one of JFK’s mistresses.’
Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act
‘Jefferson Morley, an American investigative journalist, is the latest to try to wrestle Angleton from the layers of mystery that surround him, and he does a fine job of filleting out the man’s talents and charisma from the dark deeds he committed …Morley adeptly builds a picture of a spymaster weaving a web in which his concept of duty gradually eroded his moral sense.’
Ben Macintyre, The Times