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Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control - Hardcover

 
9781250140432: Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control

The bestselling author of All the Shah’s Men and The Brothers tells the astonishing story of the man who oversaw the CIA’s secret drug and mind-control experiments of the 1950s and ’60s.

The visionary chemist Sidney Gottlieb was the CIA’s master magician and gentlehearted torturer―the agency’s “poisoner in chief.” As head of the MK-ULTRA mind control project, he directed brutal experiments at secret prisons on three continents. He made pills, powders, and potions that could kill or maim without a trace―including some intended for Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders. He paid prostitutes to lure clients to CIA-run bordellos, where they were secretly dosed with mind-altering drugs. His experiments spread LSD across the United States, making him a hidden godfather of the 1960s counterculture. For years he was the chief supplier of spy tools used by CIA officers around the world.

Stephen Kinzer, author of groundbreaking books about U.S. clandestine operations, draws on new documentary research and original interviews to bring to life one of the most powerful unknown Americans of the twentieth century. Gottlieb’s reckless experiments on “expendable” human subjects destroyed many lives, yet he considered himself deeply spiritual. He lived in a remote cabin without running water, meditated, and rose before dawn to milk his goats.

During his twenty-two years at the CIA, Gottlieb worked in the deepest secrecy. Only since his death has it become possible to piece together his astonishing career at the intersection of extreme science and covert action. Poisoner in Chief reveals him as a clandestine conjurer on an epic scale.

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Review:
An Amazon Best Book of September 2019: Mention “mind control” and you’re bound to elicit visions of Rasputin, Svengali, or Mesmer, famous creeps said to hold almost preternatural powers of persuasion over less disciplined minds. But interest in deep, subliminal influence of others goes well beyond the salons and sťances of would-be mystics. In the 1950s, Sidney Gottlieb was a mild-mannered government chemist who lived in a cabin in the woods of Virginia with his family, pursuing a rustic, spiritual existence without electricity or running water. But he also had a knack for bureaucracy that coexisted alongside patriotic zeal, which led him to the top of PROJECT MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s clandestine pursuit of drugs and techniques intended for mind-control and political assassination. He pioneered “black sites” in Europe and Asia, secret prisons where – with the help of the darkest minds that ran the camps of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan – he implemented his psyche-busting experiments, including torture and the administration of LSD. Almost unbelievably, MK-ULTRA was only part of his legacy, which includes the development of a 007-worthy poisoned cigar meant for Fidel Castro, and the expansion of his “truth serum” experiments to unwitting American agents (see also: Errol Morris’s documentary, Wormwood). It’s quite the C.V., one which earned him the sobriquets “Black Sorcerer,” “Dirty Trickster,” and now “Poisoner in Chief” –the forthright title of Stephen Kinzer’s mind-blowing biography. As the author of Overthrow and The Brothers, Kinzer is well versed in the investigation of shadowy domestic intelligence services, and Poisoner in Chief similarly draws from the well of posthumously declassified materials and original interviews to craft a meticulous mosaic of a complicated paradox of a man. Spy-lit is a burgeoning subgenre filled with many thrilling and eye-opening books, but Gottlieb’s story is a must-read for any espionage aficionado. —Jon Foro, Amazon Book Review
About the Author:
Stephen Kinzer is the author of many books, including The True Flag, The Brothers, Overthrow, and All the Shah’s Men. An award-winning foreign correspondent, he served as the New York Times bureau chief in Nicaragua, Germany, and Turkey. He is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, and writes a world affairs column for The Boston Globe. He lives in Boston.

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  • PublisherHenry Holt and Co.
  • Publication date2019
  • ISBN 10 1250140439
  • ISBN 13 9781250140432
  • BindingHardcover
  • Number of pages368
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