King of Spies: The Dark Reign of America's Spymaster in Korea

Viking. Oct. 2017. 272p. photos. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780525429937. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698410152. POL SCI
OrangeReviewStarHarden's (Escape from Camp 14) third book on North Korea tells the bizarre tale of Donald Nichols, an army motor pool sergeant-turned-spy chief, who masterminded U.S. intelligence operations in Korea for a decade starting just before the Korean War in this provocative tale of intelligence coups, atrocities, and strange behavior. Very successful spy operations and a close relationship with South Korean strongman Syngman Rhee earned Nichols wide latitude for bad behavior and violations of U.S. military regulations. Falling from grace in 1957, Nichols was evacuated from Korea in a straitjacket and treated for serious mental illness. Harden also documents Nichols's serious sex crimes and financial wrongdoing after returning from Korea. From Nichols's autobiography, court and press records, and obscure military records, Harden has uncovered this story of both great success and large failures.
VERDICT For readers interested in Korea, the Korean War, or U.S. intelligence operations, this is a must-read. Harden raises troubling questions about U.S. conduct in the Korean War.
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