The Very Best Men is the story of the CIA's early days as told through the careers of four glamorous, daring, and idealistic men who ran covert operations for the government from the end of World War II to Vietnam. Evan Thomas re-creates the personal dramas and sometimes tragic lives of Frank Wisner, Richard Bissell, Tracy Barnes, and Desmond FitzGerald, who risked everything to contain the Soviet threat.
Within the inner circles of Washington, they were regarded as the best and the brightest. They planned and acted to keep the country out of war—by stealth and “political action” and to do by cunning and sleight of hand what great armies could not, must not be allowed to do. In the end, they were too idealistic and too honorable, and were unsuited for the dark, duplicitous life of spying. Their hubris and naïveté led them astray, producing both sensational coups and spectacular blunders like the Bay of Pigs and the failed assassination attempts on foreign leaders in the early 1960s. Thomas draws on the CIA's own secret histories, to which he has had exclusive access, as well as extensive interviews, to bring to life a crucial piece of American history.
Evan Thomas is the author of ten books, including the New York Times bestsellers JOHN PAUL JONES, SEA OF THUNDER, and FIRST: SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR. Thomas was a writer, correspondent, and editor for thirty-three years at Time and Newsweek, including ten years as Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief. He appears regularly on many TV and radio talk shows. Thomas has taught at Harvard and Princeton.
"A brisk, readable, lively account of fifteen turbulent years of history . . . Informed, anecdotal, full of colorful details." -- The New York Times
"A jewel of a book." -- The Washington Post
"A thoughtful, provocative, and absorbing book, as scrupulously fair as it is responsible, bringing new details and shedding new light on forgotten events and personalities of years past." -- Chicago Tribune
"An elegantly crafted group biography of four CIA officers during its glory days, from 1947 to its decline after the mid-1960s." -- The Christian Science Monitor