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“Gripping . . . Helms’s account is fascinating, acute, and subtle. . . . There was no public servant I respected more. It was an honor to be Richard Helms’s colleague; it enhanced my life to be his friend.”
—from the Foreword by Henry A. Kissinger
A Look Over My Shoulder, by Richard Helms, begins with President Nixon's attempt to embroil the Central Intelligence Agency, of which Helms was then the director, in the Watergate cover-up. Helms recalls his education in Switzerland and Germany and at Williams College; his early career as a foreign correspondent in Berlin, during which he once lunched with Hitler; and his return to newspaper work in the United States. Helms served on the German desk at OSS headquarters in London and he was subsequently assigned to Allen Dulles’s Berlin office in postwar Germany.
On his return to Washington, Helms assumed responsibility for the OSS carryover operations in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe. He remained in this post until the Central Intelligence Agency was formed in 1947. At CIA, Helms served as a division chief; as chief of operations for Frank Wisner; as deputy director for plans (operations); as deputy director; and, ultimately, as director, from 1966 to 1973. He was appointed ambassador to Iran later that year, and he retired from government service in January 1977.
It was often thought that Richard Helms, who served longer in the Central Intelligence Agency than anyone else, would never tell his story, but here it is—revealing, news-making, and with candid assessments of the controversies and triumphs of a remarkable career and of a remarkable period in American history. A Look Over My Shoulder focuses on subjects such as intelligence collection, covert action, the uses and misuses of intelligence, and the problems secret intelligence encounters in an open society.
Topics discussed in A Look Over My Shoulder include:
• the amazing results of CIA’s Berlin tunnel operation, code name GOLD;
• the remarkable progress of high-altitude spying;
• Helms' relationship with presidents and other key figures of the Cold War;
• how President Nixon attempted to embroil the CIA in the Watergate cover-up.
"Whether one likes or loathes the furtive world in which Helms lived...this surprise autobiography provides an unsurpassed insider look into how American intelligence actually operates."
—The New York Times
"...Helms raises provocative questions about the proper scope of congressional oversight of the CIA that are especially relevant in the post-September 11 world."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)