"The best book ever written about the strangest CIA chief who ever lived." - Tim Weiner, National Book Award-winning author of Legacy of Ashes
A revelatory new biography of the sinister, powerful, and paranoid man at the heart of the CIA for more than three tumultuous decades.
CIA spymaster James Jesus Angleton was one of the most powerful unelected officials in the United States government in the mid-20th century, a ghost of American power. From World War II to the Cold War, Angleton operated beyond the view of the public, Congress, and even the president. He unwittingly shared intelligence secrets with Soviet spy Kim Philby, a member of the notorious Cambridge spy ring. He launched mass surveillance by opening the mail of hundreds of thousands of Americans. He abetted a scheme to aid Israel’s own nuclear efforts, disregarding U.S. security. He committed perjury and obstructed the JFK assassination investigation. He oversaw a massive spying operation on the antiwar and black nationalist movements and he initiated an obsessive search for communist moles that nearly destroyed the Agency.
In The Ghost, investigative reporter Jefferson Morley tells Angleton’s dramatic story, from his friendship with the poet Ezra Pound through the underground gay milieu of mid-century Washington to the Kennedy assassination to the Watergate scandal. From the agency’s MKULTRA mind-control experiments to the wars of the Mideast, Angleton wielded far more power than anyone knew. Yet during his seemingly lawless reign in the CIA, he also proved himself to be a formidable adversary to our nation’s enemies, acquiring a mythic stature within the CIA that continues to this day.
About the Author
JEFFERSON MORLEY is a journalist and editor who has worked in Washington journalism for over thirty years, fifteen of which were spent as an editor and reporter at The Washington Post. The author of Our Man in Mexico, a biography of the CIA’s Mexico City station chief Winston Scott, Morley has written about intelligence, military, and political subjects for Salon, The Atlantic, and The Intercept, among others. He is the editor of JFK Facts, a blog. He lives in Washington, DC.
“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
“The Ghost is the compulsively readable, often bizarre true-life story of American spymaster James Jesus Angleton. Capturing the extent of Angleton’s eccentricity, duplicity and alcohol-fueled paranoia would have challenged the writing skills of a Le Carre or Ludlum, and Jeff Morley has done it with flair.” - Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act
"James Angleton's real life is the most intriguing, moving, and at times shocking spy story in American history. In The Ghost, Jeff Morley has captured the man in all his brilliant and sometimes delusional eccentricity. Angleton is woven through many of the strangest episodes of the 1950s and 60s--including the Kennedy assassination--in what was invisible thread, until Morley's book. A 'must read' for anyone who wants to understand just how strange and secretive the CIA was at the height of the Cold War." --David Ignatius, columnist for The Washington Post and author of The Director
“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
“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
“[Morley] does a fine job of filleting out [Angleton’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 of London
“A page-turning biography of an eccentric spy hunter...In Angleton, [Morley] has a character beyond the imagination of John LeCarré, perhaps even of Patricia Highsmith.” - StarTribune
"Scintillating... [the book] delves into an important and rarely visited terrain." - Mondoweiss
"Essential reading for anyone interested in how our intelligence network operated during the Cold War." - LewRockwell.com
"The Ghost, Jefferson Morley’s shrewd account of Angleton’s career as Langley’s counterintelligence chief from 1954 to 1975, shows the harm that can be done by an energetic spook who is permitted grossly excessive latitude." - New York Review of Books