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For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence & the American Presidency from Washington to Bush
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For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence & the American Presidency from Washington to Bush

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  277 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
From the co-author of KGB: The Inside Story and an acknowledged authority on the subject comes "the most important book ever written about American intelligence."--David Kahn, author of The Codebreakers and Hitler's Spies
Paperback, 688 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by Harper Perennial (first published 1995)
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May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
For the Presidents Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush is exciting reading for fans of secret intelligence or presidential history. The book answers the all important question "what did the president know and when did he know it" and more importantly to secret intelligence buffs "how did he know it." Professor Christopher Andrew provides a through analysis of the intelligence provided to the presidents of the United States during their tenure and ho ...more
Sep 14, 2007 rated it liked it
This book is assigned reading for the counterterrorism graduate class I'm taking. It's a wonderful look, president-by-president, at the use of intelligence and covert action by the United States over the years. Another assigned book for the class, The Presidents' Secret Wars, covers the same topics, but in a rather boring way. The President's Eyes Only is both entertaining and enlightening. It will make you wonder how the United States is ever successful, given the number of mistakes and misstep ...more
Rich Rimkunas
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Would you have guessed that the first aerial battlefield photographic intel was submitted to President Abraham Lincoln? I would have guessed no president in office before Wilson. This book is painfully fascinating but I will warn that you should only endeavor to read it if you are EXTREMELY interested in the intelligence world as at times it can be highly technical, slow-moving, and verbose.
Ironman Ninetytwo
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Three point five stars, I guess.

The "Washington to Bush" is a bit misleading. The book has very little to offer pre-WWII. Post WWII, this is all very familiar territory. I did gain insight into a couple of points.
1) The courage of a second-level CIA officer to tell Johnson that Vietnam was unwinnable. He was not listened to. After the meeting, senior CIA people told him he did a good job sticking to his position. Um, thanks? Maybe you could have supported me in the meeting with the President.
Erik Graff
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: black budget fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
This is a better read than his authorized history of British intelligence. Here, presumably, there was no censor standing over his shoulder nor was there any need to appear to be thorough.

Contrary to the title, this is not a history of intelligence through the presidencies. Washington is covered. Lincoln is briefly mentioned. Wilson is treated at some length. The focus, however, is on the presidencies of FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush--from the th
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star
A history of how the Presidents from George Washington to George H.W. Bush viewed intelligence and used it in their decision-making. It was fascinating to read about the various Intelligence Community agencies, their interactions, and how their products were viewed and used (or not) by the White House. Reading like a novel, which makes it very readable, it still isn't for the faint-hearted. At almost 700 pages, it is a fascinating read for fans of secret intelligence or those who live (or have l ...more
Jennifer Morgan Jones
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: history buffs
I read this book as part of a Masters course in Intelligence Studies. Although I find Christopher Andrew overly chatty for an academic resource (the relevant info could be made into a MUCH smaller book) he is an accomplished historian in the intelligence field and has access to archives off limits to most. The book is impeccably researched and gives insight into the role of intelligence in American foreign policy.
Drea Damara
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This went through each Presidency and covered major issues their cabinets faced. While it is an unclassified work, of course, it did reveal interesting stories and decisions our leaders had to make. The most fascinating thing is seeing how these leaders had to make these decisions, while the public had no knowledge of all the circumstances at the time or for years to come, for that matter. A great history lesson.
Jul 11, 2008 rated it liked it
This book covers a lot of ground. Christopher Andrew seems to be the go-to guy on this topic, and each chapter (corresponding to a particular presidential administration) can be a stand alone read. Ton of detail and very eye-opening. The chapter on Nixon alone is worth it...pretty outrageous stuff.
Jan 07, 2012 added it
This book is boring with twenty dollar woods to disguise what is seriously a lack of journalistic effort. The author uses sensationalism to try to keep you interested. Thank goodness this was a library book I checked out.
Jan 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a really insightful book; I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in 20th century history. History is too often viewed by non-historians as a chronology of inevitable events. Reading this book made it all seem up in the air and unfolding before my eyes.
I read this for a class, but I found it really interesting. It's a history of how American Presidents used intelligence and has just enough good anecdotes to keep it from being too dry. - Lindsay Reimschussel
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
It's a comprehensive look at the subject matter, but unfortunately the writing is extremely dry. The books could use an updated edition, too, as its coverage ends during the first Bush administration.
Michael Webb
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very well done and engaging. The only flaw is the publication date.
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Easily the best history of U.S. intelligence.
Greg Fanoe
Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I admit, it was a bit tough to get through this, but it had a lot of great information and made every president from Truman on through George HW Bush look pretty bad! Good work.
Anna Nelson
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
A bit dry at times - but a whole lot of interesting information. It really gave me a different perspective on some of the decisions our presidents have made.
Mike Salmans
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not all this material is true but it was still a lot of fun to read
Susan Hasler
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An intelligent book on intelligence--a more rare compliment than you would think.
Inmylife Ididitmyway
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very good
Joe Wisniewski
Currently reading for a class on the history of the CIA.

2/23 After a slow start, I am getting the gist of the writer's style.
Gabor Szalai
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Dec 22, 2014
Andrew Chellinsky
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Jan 03, 2018
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Dec 24, 2008
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Christopher Maurice Andrew is an historian at the University of Cambridge with a special interest in international relations and in particular the history of intelligence services.