Dorwart's History of the Office of Naval Intelligence 1865–1945
This refreshingly impartial history of the Office of Naval Intelligence is important both because ONI was the first official American intelligence agency and because very little has been written on the history of U.S. intelligence in the days before the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Jeffery Dorwart outlines the role of ONI in the development of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century naval, political, and diplomatic policies. He reveals that one of the primary motivations for establishing the agency was the burning conviction of a group of young and enthusiastic men that if the U.S. Navy was to meet the challenge of potential enemies, it had to be thoroughly informed about foreign navies. Not only does Dr. Dorwart show the impact of these vigorous personalities on their era--men such as Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Wainwright, John G. Walker, and William S. Sims--but he makes them come alive with remarkable clarity.
More than forty years before the scandal of "Watergate" shocked the world, an equally illegal entry of private property for political purposes was carried out by a government agent under instructions from the White House. Several years later, a fellow agent formed a top-secret spy ring for the personal use of the president of the United States. Meanwhile, others working for the same organization broke into safes, eavesdropped, vandalized private property, and consorted with unsavory characters in the pursuit of domestic pacifists and radicals. Still others interfered in the internal affairs of Latin American nations, dabbled in Asian politics, and accompanied Fascist Black Shirts into Africa. These were U.S. naval and marine officers who became attached to ONI between 1919 and 1945.
In a scholarly style that mixes history with biography, this book documents the inner dynamics of ONI and its interaction with other segments of the navy and the government. While Dr. Dorwart relates its successes, he does not ignore the failures, limitations, and extra-legal tendencies of this vitally important but flawed organization.
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