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A national bestseller, this extraordinary work of investigative reporting uncovers the identities, and the remarkable stories, of the CIA secret agents who died anonymously in the service of their country.
In the entrance of the CIA headquarters looms a huge marble wall into which seventy-one stars are carved-each representing an agent who has died in the line of duty. Official CIA records only name thirty-five of them, however. Undeterred by claims that revealing the identities of these "nameless stars" might compromise national security, Ted Gup sorted through thousands of documents and interviewed over 400 CIA officers in his attempt to bring their long-hidden stories to light. The result of this extraordinary work of investigation is a surprising glimpse at the real lives of secret agents, and an unprecedented history of the most compelling—and controversial—department of the US government.
A former investigative journalist with the Washington Post and Time and winner of a George Polk Award, Gup breaks a longstanding taboo in an expos that reveals the namesDand personal storiesDof some three dozen CIA agents who died in the line of duty and whose identities have been kept secretDsometimes for decades. Gup interviewed more than 400 current and former CIA agents, as well as surviving family members, to pry loose their stories. Among the spies unmasked in these kinetic biographical profiles are Douglas Mackiernan, U.S. vice-consul in China's westernmost Xinjiang province, who fled Mao's revolution only to be shot to death by Tibetan border guards; Pete Ray, an Alabama National Guard pilot killed in the Bay of Pigs invasion; Matthew Gannon, victim of the Pan Am Flight 103 crash over Scotland, a bombing linked to Libyan terrorists; and Hugh Redmond, who refused to crack during 19 torturous years in a Shanghai prison. Gup unveils covert missions from Laos to France, from Angola to Cyprus, providing extraordinary insight into the CIA's day-to-day operations. He also empathetically delves into the ordeals of these fallen spies' grieving families, many of whom were lied to for years as the agency refused to acknowledge the men's CIA ties. Told against the backdrop of Cold War and superpower struggles, Gup's sleuthing is a remarkable coup, full of high-level intrigue, cover-ups and drama. He leaves it to readers to decide whether his subjects are heroes or knaves, and whether the CIA is a rogue agency that should be reined in or an essential survival tool in a treacherous world. FYI: Gup's 1992 expos in the Washington Post of a top-secret government installation buried beneath a West Virginia resort, where Congress would seek shelter in the event of impending nuclear war, led to that underground complex being shut down.