A searing account of a dark “chapter in U.S. Cold War history . . . to help the anti-Soviet aims of American intelligence and national security agencies” (Library Journal).
Even before the final shots of World War II were fired, another war began—a cold war that pitted the United States against its former ally, the Soviet Union. As the Soviets consolidated power in Eastern Europe, the CIA scrambled to gain the upper hand against new enemies worldwide. To this end, senior officials at the CIA, National Security Council, and other elements of the emerging US national security state turned to thousands of former Nazis, Waffen Secret Service, and Nazi collaborators for propaganda, psychological warfare, and military operations. Many new recruits were clearly responsible for the deaths of countless innocents as part of Adolph Hitler’s “Final Solution,” yet were whitewashed and claimed to be valuable intelligence assets. Unrepentant mass murderers were secretly accepted into the American fold, their crimes forgotten and forgiven with the willing complicity of the US government.
Blowback is the first thorough, scholarly study of the US government’s extensive recruitment of Nazis and fascist collaborators right after the war. Although others have approached the topic since, Simpson’s book remains the essential starting point. The author demonstrates how this secret policy of collaboration only served to intensify the Cold War and has had lasting detrimental effects on the American government and society that endure to this day.
The postwar recruitment of Nazis and collaborators by agencies of the U.S. government stemmed, the author illustrates, from intense East-West competition after the German surrender, prodded by the prospect of war between the superpowers. Simpson, a freelance journalist, reveals that many covert operations of the early Cold War era involved the use of operatives known to have committed crimes against humanity during the Second World War. The underlying theme here is the corruption of American ideals in connection with this hushed-up recruitment policy in the name of anticommunism. In elaborating the policy's "negative blowback,'' Simpson emphasizes the long-term corrosive effect on American intelligence agencies in particular.