Creating the Secret State
The Origins of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1943-1947
David F. Rudgers
Henry Adams Prize
While much has been disclosed about the CIA's cloak-and-dagger activities during the Cold War, relatively little is known about the origins of this secret organization. David Rudgers, a twenty-two-year CIA veteran, has written the first complete account of its creation, revealing how the idea of a centralized intelligence developed within the government and debunking the myth that former OSS chief William J. Donovan was the prime mover behind the agency's founding.
“Should be considered essential reading for anyone interested in gaining an understanding of the political, historical, and theoretical background to the establishment of the CIA.”
“Rudgers has written a provocative, well-documented assessment of the founding of the CIA.”
—H-Net ReviewsSee all reviews...
“The book is highly recommended, a model of historical research on intelligence policy as well as on World War II and Cold War domestic and bureaucratic politics.”
—History: Reviews of New Books
“[Rudgers] uses the declassified records skillfully and weaves them together with contemporary observations of the same events to craft a coherent narrative that can be used profitably by university undergrads and graduate students studying American intelligence. Creating the Secret State is a readable primer—and the only full-length one—on CIA’s origins.”
—Studies in Intelligence
“Working extensively in a variety of archives—the CIA, the State, Navy, and War Departments, the Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman papers—Rudgers shows how the CIA emerged from the interplay among a good many elements in the federal bureaucracy, including the Bureau of the Budget.”
“This book is a gem. It out-trumps Thomas Troy’s Donovan and should easily achieve the status of the standard account of CIA origins. Anyone with a serious interest in the history of U.S. intelligence will have to be aware it. I am filled with admiration for Rudgers’s research and the forensic skill he displays in putting the pieces of the debate into such clear perspective.”
—Wesley Wark, author of The Intelligence Revolution: Espionage and International Relations Since 1900See fewer reviews...
Creating the Secret State locates the CIA's origins in government-wide efforts to reorganize national security during the transition from World War II to the Cold War. Rudgers maintains that the creation of the CIA was not merely the brainchild of "Wild Bill" Donovan. Rather, it was the culmination of years of negotiation among numerous policy makers such as James Forrestal and Dean Acheson, each with strong opinions regarding the agency's mission and methods. He shows that Congress, the Departments of State and Justice, the Joint Chiefs, and even the Budget Bureau all had a hand in the establishment of this "secret state" that operates nearly invisibly outside the American political process.
Based almost entirely on archival and other primary sources, Rudgers's book describes in detail how the CIA evolved from its original purpose-as a watchdog to guard against a "nuclear Pearl Harbor"-to the role of clandestine warriors countering Soviet subversion, eventually engaging in more forms of intelligence gathering and covert operations than any of its counterparts. It suggests how the agency became a different organization than it might have been without the Communist threat and also shows how it both overexaggerated the dangers of the Cold War and failed to predict its ending.
Rudgers has written an accurate and balanced account that brings America's undercover army in from the cold and out from under the cult of personality. An indispensable resource for future studies of the CIA, Creating the Secret State tells the inside story of why and how the agency was called into existence as it stimulates thinking about the future relevance of the CIA in a rapidly changing world.