Thread: Bureau of Spies
View Single Post
Old 10-27-2019, 20:17   #1
Area Commander
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Western WI
Posts: 5,701
Bureau of Spies

Just finished Bureau of Spies: The Secret Connections Between Espionage and Journalism in Washington, by Steven T. Usdin.

The center of this piece of history is the old National Press Club building in Washington, D.C. In the days before everyone worked at some service or paper (or from their kitchen table with a laptop in their bathrobe), this was the collection of offices - and a premier watering hole - where journalists from all over the world hung out.

The focus runs from the influence-peddling schemes all the way to full-blown espionage over the 80 yrs or so that it was really the hub of journalism in that city. Several specific periods are extensively covered and a couple worth noting are:

- the influencing of American isolationist attitudes and outright election meddling that was engaged in by the British before we formally entered the Second World War in an effort to continue to secure material aid, if not draw us outright into the war. (During this period there is a good illustration, if not flattering, of another side of Roosevelt that FDR-o-philes may not want to hear about regarding how he viewed other races & cultures vis a vis what to do with them after victory.)

- quite a bit of the Cold War era is compared - from both sides, thanks to former Soviet archives that have been accessed - and contrasted with what is now known from declassified Venona transcripts relating to the scale of Communist infiltration in a great many facets of American life.

It's not dry by any means and many of the characters involved are, quite simply, characters of the first order. A pretty good read, and decently end-noted.

Quotable, from the last paragraph in the Epilogue:

"At a time when lives are ruled, and more than occasionally ruined, by frictionless electronic exchanges of information, it is important to remember that the most advanced devices will never supplant the oldest and most important form of communication, talking face-to-face."

A final realization from yrs trly would be that politicians and governments have been the creators of, and victims of, fake news for a long, long time.
"Civil Wars don't start when a few guys hunt down a specific bastard. Civil Wars start when many guys hunt down the nearest bastards."

The coin paid to enforce words on parchment is blood; tyrants will not be stopped with anything less dear. - QP Peregrino

Last edited by Badger52; 10-28-2019 at 10:48. Reason: remove extra character
Badger52 is offline   Reply With Quote