At a time when intelligence services have come to play an outsized role in American foreign policy, Hugh Wilford's informative and highly enjoyable book America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East imparts some especially important lessons. Among these lessons, reviews Michael Young, is the fact that spies cannot substitute for diplomats. Allowing them to pursue political agendas, then as now, defeats the purpose of having a non-partisan intelligence agency.
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