Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wilderness of Mirrors: Intrigue, Deception, and the Secrets that Destroyed Two of the Cold War's Most Important Agents” as Want to Read:
Wilderness of Mirrors: Intrigue, Deception, and the Secrets that Destroyed Two of the Cold War's Most Important Agents
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wilderness of Mirrors: Intrigue, Deception, and the Secrets that Destroyed Two of the Cold War's Most Important Agents

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Lyons Press (first published April 1980)
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 Wilderness of Mirrors, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wilderness of Mirrors

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  133 ratings  ·  13 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Wilderness of Mirrors: Intrigue, Deception, and the Secrets that Destroyed Two of the Cold War's Most Important Agents
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Well, probably not James Angleton fans.
Shelves: cia, cia-angleton, history
Wilderness of Mirrors was originally published in 1980, then reprinted in 2003. Even in the last two years, new information comes out relating to the Golitsyn and Nosenko cases, and it remains difficult to tell (from the perspective of a reader) what the truth really was. What is undeniable, however, is that James Jesus Angleton was a fascinating character who shaped the CIA in the way J. Edgar Hoover shaped the F.B.I. And whether he was right or wrong, he may have been just as crazy as Hoover. ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, history
Counter-intelligence is the strangest, most paranoid of games. It is, in the words of James Angleton, a "wilderness of mirrors" where the line between source and target, fact and fiction, trust and betrayal shatter into a million shards. Martin's 1980 book discusses the two most important American counter-intelligence operators, William “King” Harvey and James Jesus Angleton, and their eventual self-destruction.

Angleton was the epitome of the spymaster, educated, aesthetic, austere, a man of
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: espionage

Counterintel is a confusing, intense business for strong-willed, secretive, weird people. Martin does an admirable job of juxtaposing and sorting out the mess and success of 2 major Cold Warrior spies, James Angleton and William Harvey.

James Angleton was drafted into X-2 (counterintel) branch of the OSS in London (where he was trained by and befriended Kim Philby) then sent Italy during WWII. Post-war, he went on to a decades long reign as chief of counterintel in DC where he relentlessly
Dr Michael S Goodman has chosen to discuss Wilderness of Mirrors by David C Martin on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Pioneers of Intelligence Gathering, saying that:

It tells the story of James Angleton, the man in charge of counter-intelligence at the CIA, stopping people from infiltrating the organisation. There was a Russian defector in the 1960s, Anatoly Golitsyn, who went to the States and started talking and Angleton basically believed him when he said there was a mole
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wilderness of Mirrors is a fascinating read following the careers of two of the most famous or infamous Counterintelligence officers in the history of the CIA, Bill Harvey and James Angleton. While Mr Harvey was rather brash and outspoken Mr Angleton was the exact opposite, very quiet and secretive. I would highly recommend this book for any individual that is a professional in the career field or anyone that would like to know more about the successes and unfortunately the pitfalls of the CI ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books-read
Wilderness of Mirrors is the definitive view of the successes and excesses of America's spy game during the Cold War. Was there a high-level mole in the CIA? The answer from Jim Angleton was yes, even though the proof was thin. Angleton comes out a little better than Bill Harvey, another CIA titan of the era. Angleton talked; Harvey did not.
There have been other books on the subject, but Wilderness draws the most attacks, so it may be closer to the truth than the others.
Bill Manzi
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
After reading the Macintyre book on Philby this seemed like a good follow up. It centers on two enigmas of the post WWII U.S. intelligence world, Bill Harvey and James Jesus Angleton. Harvey was one of the first to develop the case against Philby (ten years before he fled) and was responsible for the bugging of the Soviet's underground cable in Berlin. Like Philby Harvey eventually became incapacitated by alcoholism. Hard drinking spies are romanticized but the reality is that anyone who drinks ...more
Benjamin Wetmore
Dec 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
I also read this book in college, but it's still a great one, and a classic.

I re-read it while in Moscow, to give me that Cold War espionage feel. It didn't disappoint the second time through.

It reads very easily, and was written in a very accessible and non-academic way. The book paces itself as a mystery and as a bit of a guarded lesson about the trade of spying.

The book suffers somewhat from overreach, not only in linking William Harvey and James Angleton so much, but also in using them as
Cort McMeel
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This work of non-fiction is both great macro history of Cold War espionage, touching on such highlghts as double agents the Rosenbergs, the famous USSR moles in England's MI-6 of Philby and Blake as well as being a fascinating character study of the two top CIA "spy hunters" of the post WWII era. James Jesus Angleton and William King Harvey could not be two more different cold warriors. Angleton was an elitist, Pound poetry reading Princetonian, who would rather tend his orchid garden than hit ...more
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
The two titular agents - Angleton and Harvey - are nominally the focus of this briskly-paced book, but the wider intent of the book seems to capture the world of those two agents - namely, that of the American and British intelligence community in the paranoid post-Philby era. It dips into the Nosenko case and Golitsin in a slighter way - necessarily - than does Tom Mangold's more deeply-researched Cold Warrior, but those two important figures still figure in the book and help the book hit its ...more
Vivian Valvano
Feb 06, 2011 rated it liked it
This is one of several books that I read reading in preparation for my paper on ULYSSES in the film THE GOOD SHEPHERD. This book centers on James Angleton, CIA, and Bill Harvey, FBI/CIA. Lots of interesting information, some tedious information. We're not talking about great writing here. It is a wonder to me how (or whether) the CIA has gotten anything positive accomplished given the mistakes made, the proliferation of so many identities, assumed identities, defectors, possible defectors, code ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Very, very interesting book. Contains quite a detailed description of some aspects of the spy war raging throughout the world after WWII. I thought that the writing style of the book was very lucid and I could mostly follow the very intricate plots of the spymasters detailed. The characters depicted, Harvey and Angleton, were both interesting and a clever pick of the author. I certainly feel more acquainted with plot twists and turns, after reading this book.
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Lively exposé of US intelligence messes from WWII to the firing of James Angleton in '74. Much detail about Bill Harvey's astute delivery of the goods while appearing the clown. If you want to know who's wasting your tax dollars, look no further than the CIA, the military industrial complex and government bureaucrats. Anarchy would be more efficient than what we have as shown in this book.
Jamie Schoffman
rated it liked it
Jun 01, 2012
rated it really liked it
Mar 09, 2014
rated it liked it
Oct 28, 2011
rated it it was ok
Aug 11, 2014
Micah Stafford
rated it liked it
Apr 14, 2014
rated it liked it
Feb 19, 2012
Nicole M Bedard
rated it really liked it
Dec 02, 2018
John Valo
rated it really liked it
Sep 01, 2014
Jennifer Keel
rated it liked it
Nov 12, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Jan 16, 2019
Joel Ludwig
rated it liked it
Jul 16, 2017
Nick "Danger" Douglas
rated it it was amazing
Jan 16, 2008
rated it really liked it
Mar 01, 2016
rated it really liked it
Feb 08, 2014
rated it it was ok
Dec 18, 2018
rated it really liked it
Feb 29, 2012
Kevin G
rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2011
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • To Catch a Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence
  • Beirut Rules: The Murder of a CIA Station Chief and Hezbollah's War Against America
  • Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed
  • Where Power Stops: The Making and Unmaking of Presidents and Prime Ministers
  • Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence
  • Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds
  • Russia Without Putin: Money, Power and the Myths of the New Cold War
  • Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion
  • From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin's Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin's Secret War on the West
  • In the Vanishers’ Palace
  • The Secret Life of the Forest
  • State of the Union (Scot Harvath, #3)
  • War Against the Taliban
  • The Lock Artist
  • Foxtrot in Kandahar: A Memoir of a CIA Officer in Afghanistan at the Inception of America's Longest War
  • The Rising Sun: The Decline & Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-45
  • In the Stacks
  • Fixing the Facts: National Security and Politics of Intelligence
See similar books…