Our Man in Mexico
Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA
Mexico City was the Casablanca of the Cold War-a hotbed of spies, revolutionaries, and assassins. The CIA's station there was the front line of the United States' fight against international communism, as important for Latin America as Berlin was for Europe. And its undisputed spymaster was Winston Mackinley Scott.
Chief of the Mexico City station from 1956 to 1969, Win Scott occupied a key position in the founding generation of the Central Intelligence Agency, but until now he has remained a shadowy figure. Investigative reporter Jefferson Morley traces Scott's remarkable career from his humble origins in rural Alabama to wartime G-man to OSS London operative (and close friend of the notorious Kim Philby), to right-hand man of CIA Director Allen Dulles, to his remarkable reign for more than a decade as virtual proconsul in Mexico. Morley also follows the quest of Win Scott's son Michael to confront the reality of his father's life as a spy. He reveals how Scott ran hundreds of covert espionage operations from his headquarters in the U.S. Embassy while keeping three Mexican presidents on the agency's payroll, participating in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and, most intriguingly, overseeing the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald during his visit to the Mexican capital just weeks before the assassination of President Kennedy.
“Morley’s book brilliantly explores the mystery of [what the CIA knew of Oswald’s Mexican activities]. . . . Morley uncovers enough new material, and theorizes with such verve, that Our Man in Mexico will go down as one of the more provocative titles in the ever-growing library of Kennedy-assassination studies. . . . [It is also] an enthralling account of Scott’s career as one of America’s most accomplished spy masters. Morley memorably depicts not only Scott’s espionage exploits, from London in World War II to Mexico City at the height of the Cold War, but also his complicated love life and his ambitions as a poet.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Extremely well researched, thoughtfully presented, and crafted with laudable forthrightness, with often painful insight and not a few lingering questions.”
—The OSS Society JournalSee all reviews...
“An interesting book about a complex man dealing with sensitive issues in and out of government.”
—Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies
“Journalist Morley reveals the incredible career of Winston Scott, who, among other posts, served as station chief for the CIA in Mexico City for over a decade in the 1950s and 1960s. Scott was there for the Bay of Pigs, and he was there when his people followed Lee Harvey Oswald around the city just prior to November 1963. Scott allegedly had at least three Mexican presidents on his payroll and generally had the run of the city while overseeing covert espionage actions throughout central America. Morley’s tale is well told and helps us get a peek inside the highly secret world of Cold War spying. Our limited knowledge of the era's espionage activities in the Western Hemisphere is greatly enhanced by this account. For all collections devoted to the Cold War and espionage.”
“A literary triumph that uncovers some of the darkest secrets of state while also revealing the human cost of a life led in service to that secrecy.”
—Nina Burleigh, author of A Very Private Woman: The Life and Unsolved Murder of Presidential Mistress Mary Meyer
“Every decade or so, a talented writer provides a genuinely new glimpse into the CIAs shadowy history. Morley’s account of legendary spymaster Winston Scott chronicles a life led in secret, stretching from the agency’s founding through Scott’s tenure as station chief in Mexico City. Morley tells this story with literary energy and an eye for the dark moments when intelligence stops making sense.”
—Thomas Powers, author of The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA
“Here is a rare thing, a biography of a C.I.A. chief that neither dodges shameful truths nor throws gratuitous mud. Packed, to boot, with genuine revelations about the crime of the century—the assassination of President Kennedy. A tour-de-force!”
—Anthony Summers, author of Not in Your LifetimeSee fewer reviews...
Morley reveals the previously unknown scope of the agency's interest in Oswald in late 1963, identifying for the first time the code names of Scott's surveillance programs that monitored Oswald's movements. He shows that CIA headquarters cut Scott out of the loop of the agency's latest reporting on Oswald before Kennedy was killed. He documents why Scott came to reject a key finding of the Warren Report on the assassination and how his disillusionment with the agency came to worry his longtime friend James Jesus Angleton, legendary chief of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton not only covered up the agency's interest in Oswald but also, after Scott died, absconded with the only copies of his unpublished memoir.
Interweaving Win Scott's personal and professional lives, Morley has crafted a real-life thriller of Cold War intrigue—a compelling saga of espionage that uncovers another chapter in the CIA's history.