A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency

by Richard Helms

Book cover for A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency

A Look over My Shoulder begins with President Nixon’s attempt to embroil the Central Intelligence Agency, of which Richard Helms was then the director, in the Watergate cover-up. Helms then recalls his education in Switzerland and Germany and at Williams College; his early career as a foreign correspondent in Berlin, during which he once lunched with Hitler; and his return to newspaper work in the United States. Helms served on the German desk at OSS headquarters in London; subsequently, he was assigned to Allen Dulles’s Berlin office in postwar Germany.

On his return to Washington, Helms assumed responsibility for the OSS carryover operations in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe. He remained in this post until the Central Intelligence Agency was formed in 1947. At CIA, Helms served in many positions, ultimately becoming the organization’s director from 1966 to 1973. He was appointed ambassador to Iran later that year and retired from government service in January 1977. It was often thought that Richard Helms, who served longer in the Central Intelligence Agency than anyone else, would never tell his story, but here it is–revealing, news-making, and with candid assessments of the controversies and triumphs of a remarkable career.

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  • On Jun 07 2016 Tom Copeland (USCG) read this book and commented:

    I really enjoyed the format of this autobiography. When you think about Richard Helms, what are the things you would want to ask him about? Nosenko. Bay of Pigs. Laos. Church Committee. Angleton. Kennedy assassination. And so on. This book has a short chapter about each one, laying out his involvement and the conclusions he drew from it. It's an effective format and of course Helms' take on things is great.