"Fred Hampton dead body" by Chicago Police Department - from the documentary film The Murder of Fred Hampton Image © Public Domain via Commons

The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the U.S.

Ward Churchill and Jim Van der Wall

Fascinating dissection of the war against “subversives,” everything from assassinations to fomenting race wars.

Publisher: South End
Paperback: 468 pages


Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961

Robin W. Winks

Few institutions demonstrate America’s changing role in world affairs as vividly as the Central Intelligence Agency. In the 1930s, America did not even have an organized intelligence network. The Office of Strategic Services was mobilized as America prepared for war, eventually including separate branches for Research and Analysis, Secret Intelligence, and Counter-Intelligence (with the cool moniker “X-2”). After World War II, the OSS was disbanded for fear that in peace-time it would create an American Gestapo. R and A was reassigned to the State Department, SI and X-2 were re-assigned to the military and later spun off into the Central Intelligence Agency. Given this precarious start, it is surprising that the CIA is the Cold War institution to out-live and prosper beyond the Soviet threat, while nuclear arsenals and military bases choke on their own moth-balls.
Winks’ history of “scholars in the secret war” is in unique contrast to the monolithic inevitability of the CIA today. He presents an almost anecdotal account of Yale’s involvement in the OSS, in the process showing how this involvement and the resulting intelligence agencies were shaped by the specifics of Ivy League academia. His first chapter, “The University: Recruiting Ground,” provides a sympathetic, yet still critical, insider’s description of the privileged mores of Ivy League campus life. Most significantly, Winks describes how the English-style “college” system, by which Yale organizes students into schools overseen by a headmaster, facilitated professors’ channeling of promising students to the OSS Likewise, Yale alum and University Press editor Wilmarth Sheldon “Lefty” Lewis, developed the Central Information Division’s data-card filing system, using minutiae-honed skills from editing the complete correspondence of Horace Walpole, originator of the Gothic novel (a 42-year project not completed until 1983, four years after Lewis’ death). The resulting system was unmatched in its detail and complexity, serving as the basis of intelligence analysis for decades to come.
Unfortunately, Winks does not print a sample of this information-science marvel, which is less to the point of his book than the fact that Lewis got the assignment “because he was having lunch with the Librarian of Congress one August day in 1941 at the MacLeish home in Conway, Massachusetts.” Such observations are not entirely flippant, but demonstrate the casual way the modern CIA came into being. Winks’ wanderings through social clubs, campus fraternities and faculty luncheons are perhaps his book’s greatest assest, the means by which he secularizes the CIA’s pre-history, removing it from the mythical realms of conspiracy cabals and returning it to the world of real human actions. RP

Publisher: Yale University
Paperback: 607 pages

The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the U.S.

Ward Churchill and Jim Van der Wall

Fascinating dissection of the war against “subversives,” everything from assassinations to fomenting race wars. AK

Publisher: South End
Paperback: 468 pages

The Columbus Conspiracy: An Investigation Into the Secret History of Christopher Columbus

Michael Bradley

Reopens the debate over the identity of Columbus. arguing that Columbus was most likely working for the Cathars, the Jews and the Moors instead of for Catholic Spain. The author argues this point by citing the fact that it was common for Christian heretics, in this case the Cathars, to use surnames that reflected their religious beliefs. One of the most common Cathar names, he claims, was Dove, which can be translated as Columbus. Also discussed is the very concept of discovery, as it’s well-known that Vikings had tried to set up colonies in the Newfoundland. The real question, he says, is did Columbus really “discover” anything? SC

Publisher: A & B
Paperback: 254 pages

Columbus: His Enterprise —Exploding the Myth

Hans Koning

“Koning describes how Columbus’ consuming drive to send ‘mountains of gold’ back to Spain shaped his life, beginning the story with his childhood in Genoa and ending after his return from his fourth and final voyage, an old man in disgrace. He shows how Columbus’ ‘discovery’ led to the enrichment of the conquerors through the plunder and murder of the native peoples of the Americas.”

Publisher: Monthly Review
Paperback: 140 pages

The Comfort Women: Japan’s Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War

George Hicks

“Fortunately, I never got VD. One of the girls did and I heard that she was taken away and beaten to death. The rest of us remained quite healthy. Given our hectic sex life. I don’t understand how we remained healthy. Maybe we were just a bunch of young country girls living off our youth.” There are said to have been 100,000 “comfort girls” recruited by the Japanese military during World War II, and set up in brothels throughout Asia. Today the surviving women once forced into prostitution by Japan’s “Imperial Forces” are in the process of suing the Japanese government for their years of degradation and abuse. JB

Publisher: Norton
Hardback: 303 pages

The Communist Manifesto

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

The standard U.S. edition of international socialism’s most popular pamphlet. Marx before the Marxists intervened. AK

Publisher: Kerr
Paperback: 48 pages

Conspiracies, Cover-Ups and Diversions: A Collection of Lies, Hoaxes and Hidden Truths

Stewart Home

“Is Prince Charles the reincarnation of Hitler? Does the Queen push drugs? Is the invisible Rosicrucian College still active in London? Does the Vatican ritually abuse children? Is the CIA responsible for the death of Kurt Cobain?” Home revives the spirit of the scandal-sheet press, responsible for bringing down the monarchy in France, and hopefully he will succeed where others have failed in England. Twenty essays on subjects ranging from occultist royals, microchips and Dresden to Gilbert and George, the K Foundation, bioengineered criminality, and TV terrorists. FLA

Publisher: Sabotage
Pamphlet: 48 pages

Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys

Jawanza Kunjufu

“Describes how African-American boys are systematically programmed for failure so that when they become adults they pose little danger to the status quo. By their control of key social institutions, European-Americans have denied the African-American boy the fruits of his heritage, culture and ‘rights of passage.’ As a result, the African-American boy becomes the bearer of social maladies which he carries with him into adulthood.”

Publisher: African American Images
Hardback: 205 pages

Crown Against Concubine: The Untold Story of the Recent Struggle between the House of Windsor and the Vatican

N.H. Merton

Forty pages of pure pleasure. Any conspiracy theorist could riff endlessly on the contrapuntal themes of Jesuits, Royals and British intelligence, but it takes a special kind of mind to state—not suggest—that books supposedly written by Graham Greene, Somerset Maugham and Martin Amis were in truth churned out by squads of “female typists” in order to free up the great writers for the manly work of “assassination and mass murder.” Also put forth in this brilliantly written diatribe are the self-evident facts that not only does Prince Charles consider himself to be the reincarnation of Hitler but that if he succeeds to the throne his first act will be to make Ancient Icelandic the official language of Great Britain. The writer’s ironic style and arcanity of information are greatly reminiscent of recent satirical tracts by English Neoist Stewart Home (see his Conspiracies, Cover-Ups and Diversions), so the too-credulous reader should bear in mind that this could be disinformation of the highest and most impish sort. Best read with a grain, if not a shaker, of salt, but that only adds to the flavor. JW

Publisher: Flatland
Paperback: 40 pages

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

Amin Maalouf

“European and Arab versions of the Crusades have little in common. What the West remembers as an epic effort to reconquer the Holy Land is portrayed here as a brutal, destructive, unprovoked invasion by barbarian hordes. When, under Saladin, a powerful Muslim army—inspired by prophets and poets—defeated the Crusaders, it was the greatest victory ever won by a non-European society against the West… Amin Maalouf has combed the works of Arab chroniclers of the Crusades, many of them eyewitnesses and participants in the events they describe… Maalouf offers fascinating insights into the historical forces that even today shape Arab and Islamic consciousness.”

Publisher: Schocken
Paperback: 293 pages