Cloak and Gown Analysis

Cloak and Gown (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Robin W. Winks traces the careers of several faculty and students of the Yale community (notably Norman Holmes Pearson and James Angleton) in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), established in 1947, and its progenitor, the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Winks’s approach is effective and illuminating because of the close collaboration between the academic and intelligence communities during the periods of his study.

Surprisingly (at least to those of the post-Vietnam generations), academia and the secret intelligence organizations acted symbiotically, each influencing the other: Universities provided men and (less often) women with the necessary language and technological skills, individuals who brought with them their scholarly methodologies and habits; the federal government in turn provided employment, training, and sometimes funding for the university communities, meanwhile successfully encouraging the development of interdisciplinary area-studies departments to meet the federal government’s need for broadly educated cultural specialists.

Winks’s historical methods serve him well as he reconstructs the development of the OSS and CIA using primary sources and countless interviews with those involved, revealing the original secret warriors to be highly educated, liberal-minded, ethical individuals whose directives and memoranda contained allusions to Dante, T.S. Eliot, and William Shakespeare. Winks substantiates his account with exhaustive footnotes and appends an extensive bibliography. His study will serve as a useful reference source in an area very much in need of accurate documentation; for the general reader, it provides an interesting overview of a crucial period in American foreign policy.