Some years ago my wife bought me a gift certificate at Audible.com. The certificate was good for three books. Interestingly enough, it literally meant, three books. I was able to buy books far beyond the cost of the gift certificate itself. The process has since changed at Audible.com. You can’t do that anymore.
One of the books I got was The Company: A Novel of the CIA by Robert Littell. My audible.com account says I originally purchased the audio book on 17 October 2003. Today, almost exactly three years later to the day, I finished the book. There were two false starts over the course of that three years. I have the unabridged edition which means that I have listened to 40 hours of audio book. For all of that, it is a great book.
Littell tells the history of the CIA from it’s formation, out of the ashes of the OSS, to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most of the more significant events are told accurately. One of the things I enjoy about historical fiction is that it drives me to find out what actually happened. Some times only in a lightweight fashion (look it up on Wikipedia). A few events are handled with more drama than accuracy. The character of James Angleton being the most evident.
In the course of the story we meet three presidents; John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. Kennedy is presented as an overbearing, egotistical man. Ronald Reagan is presented as almost senile and bumbling. Bush is presented in a rather flat light. All of which I found interesting.
It was interesting to look up each character’s name to find out if they were real or fictional. James Angleton, a major character in the book, was a real person. William J. Donovan makes an appearance. Allen Dulles is there, of course. Kim Philby has a major part in the book while the rest of the Cambridge Five make only cameo appearances. Harvey Torriti, one of the main characters through whom much of the story is told, appears to be a fictional character.
All in all, a good book. I enjoyed it though I must admit I was glad to finally reach the end today.
[posted with ecto]