Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Burn Before Reading: Presidents, CIA Directors, and Secret Intelligence” as Want to Read:
Burn Before Reading: Presidents, CIA Directors, and Secret Intelligence
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Burn Before Reading: Presidents, CIA Directors, and Secret Intelligence

3.16 of 5 stars 3.16  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In this "thoughtful, entertaining, and often insightful" book, a former CIA director explores the delicate give-and-take between the Oval Office and Langley.

With the disastrous intelligence failures of the last few years still fresh in Americans minds--and to all appearances still continuing--there has never been a more urgent need for a book like this.

In Burn Before Readi
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Hyperion (first published 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Burn Before Reading, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Burn Before Reading

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 190)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Benjamin Wetmore
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Hulser
News flash: Central Intelligence isn't centralized. The amazing Admiral Turner, surely the only frank director of the CIA we are likely to see, offers critiques, anecdotes, personality profiles, insider institutional analysis and policy recommendations. Weirdly enough, the only way for the Dir. of Intelligence to be successful is to be close to the president and to be SEEN to be close to the president. But at the same time, this very closeness makes for the greatest risks and intelligence failur ...more
Sep 17, 2007 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Another one for the Cosmic Ironists.
Shelves: cia, history, biography
Admiral Turner was Jimmy Carter's Director of Central Intelligence. In Burn Before Reading, Turner captures and comments on the relationship between each President and their DCI from the inception of the CIA in 1947 to the Bush - Tennet years. He touches on scandals, covert ops, illegalities and dirty tricks pulled by the CIA, and he doesn't pull many punches in his analysis of his own agency's blunders. Amazingly, at the end of the book, Turner calls for the CIA to be disbanded. It is hard to d ...more
It was a somewhat interesting history, but came across dry and pedantic. I was listening to the audio version and the only reason I got two hours in was due to the narrator's voice. I felt like I was listening to a radio broadcast from the 1930s. That, however, was not amusing enough to keep my interest when I have a whole stack of titles waiting to be read/listened to. Add this one to the stack of books I started and didn't have an interest to finish (which is, admittedly, a very small stack).
This book's title, "Burn Before Reading", might imply that it will be filled with relevations of inside secrets of the CIA, contain details of exciting exploits of CIA operatives, etc., but that really isn't the case. Written by a former CIA Director, Stansfield Turner, it's much more a history of the Agency, it's management and budgeting issues, its growth and setbacks. It might be better to consider it as a listing of Who's Who in the CIA from its formation through the G.W. Bush Administration ...more
Admiral Stansfield Turner(ret.) wrote a very interesting account of the relationship between the Presidents of the United States of America since Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and their chiefs of the intelligence community. The main question that the author tries to address is how to attain maximum efficiency and reliability within the intelligence community in order to serve the office of the President of the USA to its full potential. The new position of director of national intelligence will tr ...more
Peter Sprunger
If I were to rate this book on the content it would only get two stars due to the lack thereof. However, Turner (Carter's Director of Central Intelligence) does stick to his premise and provides an overview of the history of the head of the US intelligence community. Chapters are broken down into Presidencies and each discusses the relationship the President had with the intel community, the authorities bestowed upon the head of the intel community by the President, and the lasting effects the t ...more
A good book, fun to read. A little too much bogged down in acronyms and organizations. The book covered post WW2 American history by showing the effects of major and minor events on Intelligence, Covert actions, and Data gathering. I appreciate how the book was organized President-by-President so we could see the personalities change and shift.
The book was certainly one DCI's opinion of the performance and relationships that DCIs had with the respective presidents (and vice versa). I'm sure that each DCI would have a different opinion as to the relative effectiveness. Are anecdotes really proof of a hypothesis (actually, no).

The book was, in fact, okay. It covered a lot of ground, so it did not go in detail.
Mark Terry
Explores the relationship between Presidents and the intelligence community since Roosevelt. It's interesting political history that relates to current debates about the role of CIA, DNI and other players. Not really a spy story, but fascinating stories about the political dimensions of national intelligence from a former DCI.
Martin Spriggs
While the book is well written and obviously by an insider (a former DCI), the material is rather dry and focuses on relationships and the role of the DCI in each administration. Not much detail on CIA actions. A little disappointing.
This was really interesting...and extremely frustrating. The relationships between the CIA directors, Presidents, and other branches of intelligence have been so fractured, and it's all because of egos. Just stupid.
Noah Fisher
I thought this book was very interesting but kind of boring in parts. I liked the in depth storys told with a lot of detail and they told about some cool stuff the CIA has done.
B Kevin
Frank discussion of the history, failures, and realtionship btw the CIA and the White House by a former CIA Director. Well worth reading.
His history was thorough and informative, although I don't agree with the solutions he proposed at the end.
Kathy Wittig
So far, I am sensing a bias, but I'll keep an open mind and press on.
could not finish
Maria Fournier
Maria Fournier marked it as to-read
Sep 28, 2014
Briel Harvey
Briel Harvey marked it as to-read
Sep 09, 2014
Julian Patton
Julian Patton marked it as to-read
Aug 28, 2014
Ali marked it as to-read
Jul 19, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Secrecy and Democracy: The CIA in Transition Terrorism and Democracy Caging The Nuclear Genie: An American Challenge For Global Security Burn Before Reading: Presidents, CIA Directors, and Secret Intelligence: Presidents, CIA Directors, and Secret Intelligence The Virginia Papers on the Presidency

Share This Book