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Download Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage, by Douglas Waller Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (211 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Douglas Waller Narrator: Johnny Heller Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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He was one of America’s most exciting and secretive generals—the man Franklin Roosevelt made his top spy in World War II. A mythic figure whose legacy is still intensely debated, “Wild Bill” Donovan was director of the Office of Strategic Services (the country’s first national intelligence agency) and the father of today’s CIA. Donovan introduced the nation to the dark arts of covert warfare on a scale it had never seen before. Now veteran journalist Douglas Waller has mined government documents and private archives throughout the United States and England, drawn on thousands of pages of recently declassified documents, and interviewed scores of Donovan’s relatives, friends, and associates to produce a riveting biography of one of the most powerful men in modern espionage.

The son of poor Irish Catholic parents, William Joseph Donovan married into Protestant wealth and fought heroically in World War I, where he earned the nickname “Wild Bill” for his intense leadership. After the war he made millions as a lawyer on Wall Street until FDR tapped him to be his strategic intelligence chief. A charismatic leader, Donovan was revered by his secret agents. Yet at times he was reckless, risking his life unnecessarily in war zones and engaging in extramarital affairs that became fodder for his political enemies.

Wild Bill Donovan reads like an action-packed spy thriller, with stories of daring young men and women in Donovan’s OSS sneaking behind enemy lines for sabotage, breaking into Washington embassies to steal secrets, plotting to topple Adolf Hitler, and suffering brutal torture or death when they were captured by the Gestapo. It is also a tale of political intrigue, of infighting at the highest levels of government, and of powerful men pitted against one another. Deftly separating fact from fiction, Waller investigates the successes and the occasional spectacular failures of Donovan’s intelligence career, making for a gripping and revealing portrait of this most controversial spymaster.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Entertaining history…As [Waller] amply shows, Donovan was a combination of bold innovator and imprudent rule bender, which made him not only a remarkable wartime leader but also an extraordinary figure in American history.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In this fast-paced, entertaining, and engrossing biography, the author delivers a portrait of a hard-driving, type A extrovert willing to take on political enemies…A well-calibrated assessment of Donovan and the impact of the OSS on the war…The book is replete with fascinating anecdotes …and tales of derring-do.”

    Associated Press

  • “This superb, dramatic yet scholarly biography, tells a great deal about the man who built a far-flung intelligence organization from scratch in the midst of World War II.”

    Washington Post

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Hadrian | 1/14/2014

    " Satisfactory overview of Donovan and the OSS. Well-researched and meticulous. Tends to focus on bureaucratic infighting as well as espionage, and some of the material can be a bit baffling to those not well-versed in WW2 history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Chris | 12/23/2013

    " Very interesting life story stuffed into episodic less than thrilling book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Margali | 12/16/2013

    " Not a bad book, just one in which I couldn't maintain interest. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Bill | 12/8/2013

    " Ouch. Painful read. I struggled but got through Wild Bill Donovan. Read more like a dictionary than a book. Heavy on the facts, figures, dates, and too light on the analysis of the man's and the OSS's impact on WWII. Nonetheless, solid background and now I am more informared on the orgin of the CIA and Bill Donovan's amazing personal impact. He wins the Medal of Honor in WWI and Douglas McArthur who commanded in the same assault line does not. I'm sure that stuck in McArthur's throat and may be part of the reason why McArthur never permitted the OSS to operate or contribute significantly in the Pacific campaign in WWII. "

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