The author of Wild Bill Donovan will discuss this year’s 65th anniversary of the CIA on my radio show March 8 with co-host Scott Draughon. Hear the show live nationwide with author Douglas Waller at noon (EST) on the MTL radio network. Waller’s biography of the World War II leader of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) has just been republished in paperback after making the New York Times best-seller list in hardcover. The OSS is the CIA’s forerunner agency.
Scott and I begin the show with commentary on national news, this week notable for the GOP Super Tuesday results in Ohio. Also, I'll report on former lobbyist Jack Abramoff's reform ideas to thwart corruption in Washington. The former lobbyist has served his time, and authored a book on lessons learned.
In announcing Waller's book, the Free Press said:
Donovan introduced the nation to the dark arts of covert warfare on a scale it had never seen before. Now, veteran journalist Douglas Waller has mined government and private archives throughout the United States and England, drawn on thousands of pages of recently declassified documents, and interviewed scores of Donovan’s relatives, friends, and associates to produce a riveting biography of one of the most powerful men in modern espionage.
Wild Bill Donovan reads like an action-packed spy thriller, with stories of daring young men and women in his OSS sneaking behind enemy lines for sabotage, breaking into Washington embassies to steal secrets, plotting to topple Adolf Hitler, and suffering brutal torture or death when they were captured by the Gestapo. It is also a tale of political intrigue, of infighting at the highest levels of government, of powerful men pitted against one another.
Waller is a veteran magazine correspondent, author and lecturer. Before Wild Bill Donovan, his five previous books on the military and foreign policy include the best-sellers, The Commandos and Big Red, and the critically acclaimed biography of General Billy Mitchell, A Question of Loyalty. In two decades as a Washington journalist, he has covered the Pentagon, Congress, the State Department, the White House and the CIA. From 1994 to 2007, Waller served in Time Magazine’s Washington Bureau, with assignments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Details.
Praise for Wild Bill Donovan
“Wild Bill Donovan, the founding father of American espionage, jumps off the page in Douglas Waller’s superb biography of one of the nation’s most important and least understood leaders of the 20th Century. Waller marvelously evokes an era when a matinee-idol character like Donovan could turn Washington into his own secret playground even as he ended America’s naiveté about the necessity of stealing the secrets of other gentlemen. Waller takes us back to a time, long before bureaucratic sclerosis set in at the Central Intelligence Agency, when American spies lived in Technicolor.”
-- James Risen, author of State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
“Whether fighting on the battlefield during World War I, leading the OSS during World War II, or prosecuting Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, William Donovan’s service to his country was historic and extraordinary. In Wild Bill Donovan, Douglas C. Waller’s impressive research and riveting writing bring the ‘Father of American Intelligence’ to life, drawing the reader into one of the most thrilling and remarkable periods in American history.”
-- Lee H. Hamilton, former Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
In Wild Bill Donovan, Douglas Waller brings the larger than life William J. Donovan – a World War I Medal of Honor winner, Office of Strategic Services founder, CIA architect, and one of the 20th century’s most compelling figures – to life. Waller's impressive skill as a journalist, his expertise about the U.S. intelligence community, and a remarkable writing ability complement one another in this fascinating and insightful portrait of Donovan the man, not the myth, and enhances our appreciation of his remarkable legacy. General Donovan attributed much of the success of the Office of Strategic Services to “good old fashioned intellectual sweat.” This informative, enjoyable, and important book deserves the same compliment.
-- Charles Pinck, President, The OSS Society, Inc.
“An extraordinary portrait of an extraordinary figure in 20th century American history, a man beyond the power of fiction to invent. Wild Bill Donovan is brilliantly researched and beautifully told, as evocative and enlightening as it is entertaining.”
-- Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle
“Douglas Waller gives us the definitive portrait of the fascinating, creative, disorganized, brave man who—starting from nothing during our biggest war—created our modern capacity for human intelligence and covert operations. A must for all who would understand American intelligence.”
-- R. James Woolsey, Chair, Woolsey Partners, LLC and Director of Central Intelligence, 1993-1995
“In a time when espionage consists largely of technicians in windowless rooms, far from the battlefield, collecting signals and pictures from satellites and drones, it is both refreshing and fascinating to read Doug Waller’s story of the man behind World War II’s spy organization, the OSS. Long before there was a CIA, there was Major General “Wild Bill” Donovan, and Waller’s extensively researched and highly entertaining book takes the reader back to the days when spying meant sending dedicated agents behind enemy lines to risk their lives to steal secrets and help win the war.”
-- James Bamford, bestselling author of Body of Secrets and The Shadow Factory