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Deception Redux

Edward Jay Epstein is a gifted writer and investigative journalist who has been at it now for nearly 50 years. I hope to have something on his forthcoming book — The Annals of Unsolved Crime — when it is to be published by Melville House next month.

I have been a fan of Ed’s since I read Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald when it was published in 1978. Legend derived from Ed’s interest in Lee Harvey Oswald. In the course of his research for the book, Ed developed a relationship with the legendary CIA counterintelligence chief, James Jesus Angleton, who familiarized Ed with the pitched battle over the authenticity of a key KGB defector. Ed’s book Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA (1989) also benefited from Ed’s relationship with Angleton.

I bought and read Deception when it was published in 1989. Although it is a terrific book, it quickly dropped from sight, only to reemerge this year — in China. What’s going on? Ed writes:

Up until it was published in China this year, I had assumed events had long since bypassed my 1989 book Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA. After all it had been written during the Cold War as a warning about the KGB’s well-honed use of deception as a means of winning without fighting, and, literally on the eve of its publication, the Berlin Wall came down, and the Cold War ended. The concepts in it, such as disinformation, moles, and strategic intelligence manipulation, seemed an anachronism of a war that ended.

So I asked: why the renewed interest in China? I believe there are three reasons:

1) Deception at its core is about the vulnerability of US intelligence to self-deception and, as Benghazi demonstrates, that is still relevant.
2) The KGB has been reconstituted as the powerful master class of Russia.
3) The US has continued to transform the CIA from an intelligence service, which values counterintelligence, to a paramilitary covert action organization.

Given the renewed interest in Deception, Ed has republished it as an ebook that is available via Amazon at the link.

CORRECTION: Thinking of Mark Riebling’s book Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11–How the Secret War between the FBI and CIA Has Endangered National Security (another book which has dropped from sight), I misstated the subtitle of Ed’s book in the original version of this post. Thanks to the readers who noted my error.

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