Legacy of Ashes
by Tim Weiner
(Doubleday, $28)

Tim Weiner’s “masterfully reported” history of the CIA would be an important book even if it weren’t “compulsively readable,” said Laura Miller in Salon.com. At a time when the agency’s reputation has been seriously undermined by intelligence failures, Weiner’s impeccably sourced chronicle demonstrates that our pre-eminent spooks probably never did deserve the fear and awe that they once inspired. Reviewing a full half-century of CIA ineptitude, this “superb journalist” seems to leave no lie unexposed, “no bungled assassination unsung,” said Sam Coale in The Providence Journal. Weiner’s objective is to inspire an overhaul of the organization that runs America’s intelligence operations. Until Washington is ready to heed him, his “riveting, fact-drenched page-turner” will stand ready to “disgust, appall, amaze, stun, and enthrall” many a mere citizen.

A caveat: Weiner gives too little attention to forces outside the agency that contributed to some of its blunders, said Coale.