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.

—Library Journal

“Rudgers has written a provocative, well-documented assessment of the founding of the CIA.

—H-Net Reviews
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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.

About the Author

Independent historian David F. Rudgers was formerly a staff archivist for the National Archives and a senior intelligence analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency.