Monday, November 30, 2009

Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman or Secret Empire

Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman

Author: Abbie Hoffman

The Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman tells the story of one of America's most influential and imaginative dissidents, a major figure in the 1960s counterculture and anti-war movement who remained a dedicated political organizer right up until his death in 1989. With his unique brand of humor, wit, and energetic narrative, Abbie Hoffman describes the history of his times and provides a first-hand account of such memorable actions as the "levitation" of the Pentagon, the dropping of dollar bills onto the New York Stock Exchange floor, and the Chicago 8 Trial, which followed the demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Convention, as well as his friendships with Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Allen Ginsberg, and many others. Originally published in 1980 as Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture, this memoir has been out of print for nearly 10 years. This edition includes a new selection of photographs chosen by his widow, Johanna Lawrenson, as well as a new afterword by Howard Zinn celebrating Hoffman's enduring activist legacy.

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Secret Empire: Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Hidden Story of America's Space Espionage

Author: Philip Taubman

In a brief period of explosive, top-secret innovation during the 1950s, a small group of scientists, engineers, businessmen, and government officials rewrote the book on airplane design and led the nation into outer space. Led by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, they invented the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes and the first reconnaissance satellites that revolutionized spying, proved that the missile gap was a myth, and protected the United States from Soviet surprise nuclear attack. They also made possible the space-based mapping, communications, and targeting systems used in the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Veteran New York Times reporter and editor Philip Taubman interviewed dozens of participants and mined thousands of previously classified documents to tell this hidden, far-reaching story. He reconstructs the crucial meetings, conversations, and decisions that inspired and guided the development of the spy plane and satellite projects during one of the most perilous periods in our history, a time when, as President Eisenhower said, the world seemed to be "racing toward catastrophe."

This is the story of these secret heroes, told in full for the first time.

The New York Times

Secret Empire, by Philip Taubman, a longtime correspondent for The New York Times and now its deputy editorial page editor, chronicles the development of these ''national technical means,'' the euphemism for overhead reconnaissance, both aerial and space-based. Concentrating on the Eisenhower years, Taubman celebrates ''the inventors and risk-takers who revolutionized spying'' and calls for a new generation of technological swashbucklers to create tools for the perils facing the United States at the beginning of the 21st century. — Alex Roland

The Los Angeles Times

For more than half a century, small teams of engineers, physicists, mathematicians and scientists have spent their working lives in virtual anonymity building America's vast arsenal of overhead spy machines. Sealed in windowless rooms behind cipher-locked doors, they exist in an "Alice in Wonderland" world of code words, black budgets and retina scanners. The early pioneers of this strange land are the subject of Philip Taubman's Secret Empire: Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Hidden Story of America's Space Espionage.

Taubman, a New York Times editor, discovered while on the paper's spy beat that most of America's intelligence came not from agents but from supersophisticated machines, many located high above. "The massing of Soviet forces on the Afghan border in 1979 -- the indication that an invasion was imminent -- had been tracked by spy satellite," he writes. "When Soviet troops assembled for a possible invasion of Poland in December 1980, satellite photographs helped to alert Washington." — James Bamford

The Washington Post

The book is mostly small-bore, resolutely sticking to a step-by-tiny-step history of the program. Frequently, the only obvious point seems to be to get it all down on paper. The result, unfortunately, is often something only a satellite buff, or perhaps a product manager, could love. — Eric Umansky

Publishers Weekly

In this exciting, meticulously researched spy story, Taubman takes readers behind the closed doors of the Eisenhower administration to tell about the small group of Cold Warriors whose technological innovations-including the U2 spy plane and Corona, the country's first spy satellite-revolutionized espionage and intelligence gathering. The author, an award-winning New York Times editor who has reported on national security issues for more than two decades, gives an account drawn from previously classified documents, oral history archives and scores of interviews with the men who were there. The new technology was driven by the need for safer ways to spy on the Soviet Union-hundreds of pilots had been killed or lost in aerial reconnaissance missions-and, as Taubman argues, it served as a peacekeeper by eliminating the fear of surprise attack. Through the U2 program, CIA analysts determined that the U.S.S.R. was neither outpacing the U.S. in the manufacture of long-range bombers nor fielding hundreds of intercontinental missiles as feared. This book functions marvelously as a history of science, detailing the research, engineering and policy decisions behind the U2 and Corona, but it's also an excellent social history of the Cold War in the 1950s and early '60s. It's a page-turner as well, notably with Taubman's narratives of the first U2 flight, Sputnik and the downing of Francis Gary Powers's U2 over the Soviet Union and the resulting blow to the Eisenhower administration's credibility. Taubman sheds light on a era when the nation's lawmakers were regularly kept in the dark about CIA and other spy agency activities. In an epilogue, the author addresses some unintended consequences in light of September 11, exploring the neglect of conventional manned spying. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Foreign Affairs

During the 1950s and early 1960s, the development of first the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft and then spy satellites transformed the world of intelligence. Although the outlines of this story are well known, particularly concerning the U-2, Taubman provides a wealth of detail on all aspects of these projects, based on many interviews and copious research. He weaves together complex strategic, organizational, and engineering issues, managing to convey the drama and excitement of a race to find some way of getting consistent and reliable intelligence on Soviet nuclear missiles at a time when the United States was widely assumed to be falling behind. The story shows Dwight Eisenhower at his most decisive and shrewd, ready to listen to the advice of tough-minded outsiders, such as James Killian of MIT and Edwin Land of Polaroid, and to hand over critical projects to the CIA.2

Library Journal

Taubman, deputy editorial page editor for the New York Times, knows how to tell a good story. And what a story it is! Eisenhower, who was often accused of "putting and puttering" and "goofing and golfing," is portrayed here as a remarkable risk taker who supported the creation of highly sophisticated spy-satellite and spy-plane technology by going around the stodgy Pentagon bureaucracy and using the best minds he could find. Although Taubman's is not the first account of this subject to appear recently (Curtis L. Peebles's The Corona Project and Eye in the Sky: The Story of the Corona Spy Satellites, edited by Dwayne A. Day, both tell the same story), it displays his impressive skills at writing crackling prose while juggling numerous details. This excellent book is recommended for all collections.-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

New York Times editorial-page editor and Polk Award-winner Taubman delivers an expertly related, accessible account of a turning point in American intelligence, when on-the-ground spying gave way to a belief that technology could cure all ills. Having been caught unawares at the Battle of the Bulge by a lack of reliable information about German troop movements, Dwight Eisenhower had long been determined to improve American capabilities. The death of Josef Stalin in 1953, however, saw the US again caught off guard; as Eisenhower complained, "Ever since 1946, I know that all the so-called experts have been yapping about what would happen when Stalin dies and what we, as a nation, should do about it. Well, he's dead. And you can turn the files of our government inside out-in vain-looking for any plans laid. We have no plan." Demanding better and timelier information about Soviet military capabilities and deployments, Eisenhower authorized the development of two innovations: high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft such as the U2 and SR-71, which enabled "timeliness, geographical coverage, accepted accuracy"; and supposedly secret satellites that could photograph every inch of the Soviet empire. Those goals were met, but only after severe technical obstacles were overcome by throwing millions and billions of dollars at them. The results were both good and bad, Taubman writes. Eisenhower and his successors had the benefit of better information about such things as missile silos and moving tank columns, but in the end they would also have to contend with "distortions in the nation's intelligence agencies, including an overreliance on dazzling machines and a shortage of resources in moretraditional fields like the recruitment and training of spies"-a shortcoming recently and keenly underscored by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Absorbing throughout, and meaty stuff for intelligence and aviation buffs.

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