Need To Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9780062967473. $29.99. MILITARY HISTORY
Historian and former CIA analyst Reynolds (Johns Hopkins Univ.; Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy) tells the story of the U.S. intelligence agencies during World War II. After a series of fact-finding missions and with close cooperation from the British, the adventurous “Wild Bill” Donovan urged President Roosevelt to create a new agency that would collect, consolidate, and analyze enemy messages. The newly created Office of Strategic Services struggled to establish itself and determine its mission, while U.S. Navy and Army codebreakers scored significant victories by breaking and reading the Japanese diplomatic and military used throughout the war, which led to strategic victories such as Midway and the assassination of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. This detailed and highly readable account of the beginnings and growth of American intelligence gathering brings together exciting spy stories with a sense of how much ground the Americans needed to make up to create competent and highly effective intelligence agencies.
VERDICT Based on extensive primary research, this striking and compelling account should be read by anybody interested in the development of U.S. intelligence agencies and special operations during World War II.
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