パズル・パレス―超スパイ機関NSAの全貌 単行本 – 1986/9
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In this remarkable tour de force of investigative reporting, James Bamford exposes the inner workings of America's largest, most secretive, and arguably most intrusive intelligence agency. The NSA has long eluded public scrutiny, but The Puzzle Palace penetrates its vast network of power and unmasks the people who control it, often with shocking disregard for the law. With detailed information on the NSA's secret role in the Korean Airlines disaster, Iran-Contra, the first Gulf War, and other major world events of the 80s and 90s, this is a brilliant account of the use and abuse of technological espionage. --このテキストは、絶版本またはこのタイトルには設定されていない版型に関連付けられています。
When we consider that people as far removed as the leaders of Germany and Indonesia appear shocked by the 2013 revelations that NSA is spying on them, we can conclude either that they have never read this book or that they have and don't want to tell their citizens about it. In short, as Bamford points out, one or more members of the "5 Eyes Only" group has been spying on mass communications ever since the transatlantic cables were first laid, more than a century ago.
Another valuable part of this history is the laying to rest of some myths of WWII communications. Bamford's book is a good counterweight to books and articles emphasizing the Enigma device. I recall one author claiming that Roosevelt "knew" the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor and "let" it happen. Bamford supplies the more complex, nuanced story of how the communications failed due to human error, not to any "conspiracy."
The afterword contains the story of Geoffrey Arthur Prime, which is the closest we get to a Le Carre style spy story. Prime was carrying on his work while the 1974 Le Carre novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was being written. See pages 502-532 in the paperback edition I have. Perhaps NSA should assign someone to read spy novels.
There is one major problem with this edition, but it doesn't seem to be the author's fault.The blurb on the back of the book claims that the book includes "information on the NSA's secret role" in "major world events of the 1980s and 1990s." The afterward ends with 1982. There's nothing after that: No "Korean Airlines disaster [Sept 1, 1983], Iran-Contra , [nor] the Gulf War [1990-91]."
Readers counting on the book to cover these topics should complain to Penguin Books.
In parts the book is completely engrossing. The author's descriptions of double agents and defectors are fascinating -- true-life spy stories with all of the sordid details laid bare. The thoroughness of Bamford's reporting, though, can also be a challenge to the reader, at least to me. Some chapters are so dense with names, dates and acronyms that I had a hard time retaining the key points. At times it felt like I was reading a dictionary or an encyclopedia. Bamford also engages in a bit of sanctimonious finger-wagging towards the end of the book, using his literary pulpit to warn us all against the dangers of letting such a large and powerful agency run amok with so much eavesdropping technology at its disposal.
That said, if you're looking for an iconic book on 20th-century history, "The Puzzle Palace" should be on your shelf. It's not the lightest reading out there. But it's a worthwhile read for anyone who has an interest in the shadowy world of the NSA.