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From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War
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From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  165 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
From a former director of the CIA, and one who served on the White House staffs of four presidents, this is the inside story of America's and the agency's roles in the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
Paperback, 608 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1996)
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Jan 07, 2009 Remo rated it really liked it
Bob Gates’ From The Shadows is an interesting book by the former director of the CIA. Gates held numerous posts in the National Security Council and CIA’s analytic directorate. The book has very little “inside baseball” and is much more a history of the times, from the perspective of national security policy and intelligence. If you are interested in foreign policy during the last half of the Cold War, this is a good historical source. If you’re looking for lots of spy stories, or stories of the ...more
Vikas Datta
Quite a comprehensive account of the clandestine war between the superpowers by a leading participant of the US side. While setting the record straight on a couple of US presidents to whom posterity has not been kind, Mr Gates' account deals with more of the minutiae of espionage - of unearthing information and agents, the turf fights, the battles over interpretation and especially the key issue of legislative oversight of overt and covert operations - in the struggle to counter the Soviet Union ...more
Oct 22, 2011 Ken rated it liked it
I spent a few days with this, and only intended to find out if Gates had a background in the military. However, it was so well written, and his story was so interesting that I read the whole book. It was like being a 'fly on the wall' at the nexus of power in Washington DC through five different administrations. I especially liked his impressions of Jimmy Carter. Gates feels that Carter is by far the smartest of our recent presidents, and he was so thoughtful and contemplative that his enemies i ...more
Anthony Meaney
May 09, 2013 Anthony Meaney rated it really liked it
This is not a book about covert actions or cloak and dagger "spy stuff". It is a book about the other side of the CIA - the analytical piece that forms most of the foreign policy decisions of the US President. Will be of interest to those who grew up in the height of the cold war and who want to understand the goings on in the White House during those years. Requires a certain knowledge of the history of that era - otherwise you will be googling people's names to see who they were. Most importan ...more
eliezer d lugo jr
Enjoyed reading. Recommended for all.

I could not put this book down. Enjoyed learning from the past at a level I am not at. Makes a good course in college to teach.
Duy Hoang
Jun 01, 2014 Duy Hoang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly balanced, insightful and insider account of the Cold War by a distinguished statesman. I wish America had a few more men like Robert Gates in government.
Jada Tullos
Jun 08, 2014 Jada Tullos rated it really liked it
Well-done blend of fact and some honest opinions. Gates obviously did much research in addition to his personal recollections of the Cold War during the 70s and 80s which makes his book particularly interesting.

Although I enjoyed this book, in general I don't read books that focus on history. I must say that it took me much longer than usual to read this book because I found some parts very dense with acronyms, names and dates. Not that those parts were bad, just not easily consumed by someone
Dec 06, 2011 Chris rated it liked it
This book was interesting from a foreign policy standpoint, but not an interesting CIA novel. Robert Gates is one of the few people that have worked in the CIA and National Security Council for every president since Nixon. It was interesting to see how decision are made with some many gigantic egos in the room. I would recommend this book to any interested in the play-by-play breakdown of US policy during the cold war.
Mar 06, 2013 Ben rated it it was ok
As long as you keep in mind that it's written by a man who was deputy head of the CIA when it was described as at it's most "corrupt and slanted" (, and have a decent understanding of the mostly illegal activities they conducted, it makes for an interesting if distasteful read.
Aug 24, 2013 Kurishin rated it really liked it
Interesting balance between Cold War storytelling/analysis and politicking. My perception of the Cold War was changed through reading this book and Gates does get into the personalities involved, too. One gets the sense there is so much more that he doesn't or can't write.
Apr 05, 2013 Simon rated it really liked it
Very in depth account of the Cold War era of the CIA by the only person to ever start as a junior and become director. Lots of detail and behind the scenes anecdotes. Can get a little repetitive at times, but still very readable.
Sep 04, 2007 Jon rated it really liked it
After watching "The Company" a few weeks ago, I wanted to learn more about the CIA and the Cold War. After a few chapters into it, it is strategic overview of the past five presidencies' foreign policy.
Bill Radcliff
May 28, 2015 Bill Radcliff rated it liked it
A good read but thought it was lacking something. Was hoping for more details about his experiences when part of the NSC staff and as DCI
Sep 10, 2011 Henry rated it really liked it
Good book which brings the insight of an insider over an important span of American history between US-USSR/Russia relations.
Eric Beager
May 27, 2008 Eric Beager rated it liked it
Analytical, symmetic overview of cold war foreign policy by current secretary of defense...lacks conspiratual insight.
Dec 28, 2012 Mac rated it it was amazing
Interesting perspective, from behind the scene's.
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