A Covert Action: Reagan, the CIA, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland

Book.

Jones, Seth G.  A Covert Action: Reagan, the CIA, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2018). 

In this gripping narrative history, Seth G. Jones reveals the little-known story of the CIA’s subsequent operations in Poland, which produced a landmark victory for democracy during the Cold War. While the Soviet-backed Polish government worked to crush a budding liberal opposition movement, the CIA began a sophisticated intelligence campaign, code-named QRHELPFUL, that supported dissident groups. The most powerful of these groups was Solidarity, a trade union that swelled to a membership of ten million and became one of the first legitimate anti-Communist opposition movements in Eastern Europe. With President Reagan’s support, the CIA provided money that helped Solidarity print newspapers, broadcast radio programs, and conduct a wide-ranging information warfare campaign against the Soviet-backed government. QRHELPFUL proved vital in establishing a free and democratic Poland.

Long overlooked by CIA historians and Reagan biographers, the story of QRHELPFUL features an extraordinary cast of characters―including spymaster Bill Casey, CIA officer Richard Malzahn, Polish-speaking CIA case officer Celia Larkin, Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, and Pope John Paul II. Based on in-depth interviews and recently declassified evidence, A Covert Action celebrates a decisive victory over tyranny for U.S. intelligence behind the Iron Curtain, one that prefigured the Soviet collapse.

Dr. Seth Jones teaches for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

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