A Look over My Shoulder
By Richard Helms with William Hood
(Random House, 496 pages, $35)

At a time when the Bush administration is hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Congress wants to know what the Central Intelligence Agency told the president about those weapons before the war, A Look over My Shoulder by former CIA Director Richard Helms is a must-read. Helms, who died in November 2002, intended this book primarily as a memoir of his 31 years in intelligence. However, he also wanted to set the record straight about the circumstances that led him to plead nolo contendere to a charge of lying to Congress. And it is in this regard that an otherwise fascinating book about the past speaks to the present about truth and the role of a secret intelligence agency in a democracy.

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