In This Review

The Shadow Warriors: O.S.S. and the Origins of the C.I.A
The Shadow Warriors: O.S.S. and the Origins of the C.I.A
By Bradley F. Smith
Basic Books, 1983, 507 pp

This may be as close to a definitive medium-length history of OSS as we are likely to get. It draws fully on the extensive original files now available (both American and British) and on the recent flood of secondary writing; the only exception appears to be the personal files of General Donovan which formed the basis of the recent Cave Brown biography (reviewed here in the Spring 1983 issue). The author has a sure grasp of the basic history of the war. His narrative chapters put OSS firmly into that wider context, and his perspectives and judgments ring true. And there are excellent chapters on the usually neglected Research and Analysis section and on the relations between OSS and Soviet intelligence agencies (including one particularly striking revelation).

The title, however, may be slightly misleading: the final chapter on the transition from OSS to CIA is by no means exhaustive, especially on the origins of the Agency's role in covert operations. Experts will also note the very limited discussion of OSS counterintelligence work (doubtless because files in this area are still protected), including the failure to mention or deal with recent charges that one British adviser to OSS may have had German or Soviet connections. But these are small matters in an important book.