Thomas Powers

Last updated

Thomas Powers (New York City, December 12, 1940) is an American author and intelligence expert.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1971 together with Lucinda Franks for his articles on Weatherman member Diana Oughton (1942-1970). [1] He was also the recipient of the Olive Branch award in 1984 for a cover story on the Cold War that appeared in The Atlantic , a 2007 Berlin Prize, and for his 2010 book on Crazy Horse the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History.

Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting

This Pulitzer Prize has been awarded since 1942 for a distinguished example of reporting on national affairs in the United States. In its first six years (1942–1947), it was called the Pulitzer Prize for Telegraphic Reporting – National.

Lucinda Franks American journalist

Lucinda Franks is an American journalist. She is a former staff writer for The New York Times, and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic.

Weather Underground American radical organization

The Weather Underground Organization (WUO), commonly known as the Weather Underground, was a radical left-wing domestic terror group active in the late 1960s and 1970s, founded on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan. Originally called Weatherman, the group became known colloquially as the Weathermen. Weatherman organized in 1969 as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) composed for the most part of the national office leadership of SDS and their supporters. Their political goal, stated in print after 1974, was to create a revolutionary party to overthrow U.S. imperialism.

Life and works

Born in New York City in 1940, he was a 1958 graduate of Tabor Academy. Powers later attended Yale University where he graduated in 1964 with a degree in English. At first he worked for the Rome Daily American in Italy, later for United Press International. In 1970 he became a freelance writer. [2]

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is an American private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

United Press International company

United Press International (UPI) is an international news agency whose newswires, photo, news film, and audio services provided news material to thousands of newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations for most of the 20th century. At its peak, it had more than 6,000 media subscribers. Since the first of several sales and staff cutbacks in 1982, and the 1999 sale of its broadcast client list to its rival, the Associated Press, UPI has concentrated on smaller information-market niches.

Powers is the author of six works of non-fiction and one novel. His The Man who Kept Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (1979) is "widely regarded as one of the best books ever written on the subject of intelligence." [2] His work on Werner Heisenberg tracks secret developments in nuclear physics during the 1930s and early 1940s.

Richard Helms Director of Central Intelligence (1966–1973)

Richard McGarrah Helms served as the United States Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from June 1966 to February 1973. Helms began intelligence work with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Following the 1947 creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) he rose in its ranks during the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations. Helms then served as DCI under Presidents Johnson and Nixon.

Werner Heisenberg German theoretical physicist

Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics. He published his work in 1925 in a breakthrough paper. In the subsequent series of papers with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, during the same year, this matrix formulation of quantum mechanics was substantially elaborated. He is known for the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which he published in 1927. Heisenberg was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the creation of quantum mechanics".

The revised edition of his Intelligence Wars contains twenty-eight articles previously published in the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Book Review from 1983 to 2004. His most recent book follows the life of Crazy Horse (died Nebraska 1877). Evan Thomas in The New York Times , while reviewing this book, also commented broadly on Powers as an author and a previous work on Richard Helms:

Crazy Horse Oglala Sioux chief

Crazy Horse was a Lakota war leader of the Oglala band in the 19th century. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Native American territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people. His participation in several famous battles of the Black Hills War on the northern Great Plains, among them the Fetterman Fight in 1866 in which he acted as a decoy and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 in which he led a war party to victory, earned him great respect from both his enemies and his own people.

Evan Thomas American journalist

Evan Welling Thomas III is an American journalist, historian, and author. He is the author of nine books, including two New York Times bestsellers.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

Powers is "a great journalistic anthropologist. In possibly the best book ever written about the C.I.A, The Man Who Kept the Secrets, Powers took the reader on a fascinating journey into the world of secret intelligence gathering and covert action. The C.I.A. was, at least in the early years of the cold war, a tribe as mysterious and exotic as the Great Plains Sioux of the 1870s. And Powers tells us much that is revealing and often moving about the Sioux in their last days as free warriors". [3]

Powers has been a contributor to The New York Review of Books , [4] The Atlantic , [5] The Los Angeles Times , The New York Times Book Review , [6] Harper's , The Nation , Commonweal , and Rolling Stone .

<i>The New York Review of Books</i> magazine

The New York Review of Books is a semi-monthly magazine with articles on literature, culture, economics, science and current affairs. Published in New York City, it is inspired by the idea that the discussion of important books is an indispensable literary activity. Esquire called it "the premier literary-intellectual magazine in the English language." In 1970 writer Tom Wolfe described it as "the chief theoretical organ of Radical chic".

<i>The Atlantic</i> Magazine and multi-platform publisher based in Washington, D.C.

The Atlantic is an American magazine and multi-platform publisher.

<i>The New York Times Book Review</i>

The New York Times Book Review (NYTBR) is a weekly paper-magazine supplement to The New York Times in which current non-fiction and fiction books are reviewed. It is one of the most influential and widely read book review publications in the industry. The offices are located near Times Square in New York City.

Besides writing, Powers joined a partnership to found in 1993 a publishing company, Steerforth Press. Originally located in South Royalton, Vermont, it is now located in Hanover, New Hampshire. [7] Its website self describes as a "small independent house" with a "range of titles on a variety of topics".

Powers and his wife Candace live in Vermont. [8] In 1979 he was living with his wife and three daughters in New York City. [9] "He is currently writing a memoir of his father, who once told him that the last time he met Clare Boothe Luce was in the office of Allen Dulles." [4]


Related Research Articles

Office of Strategic Services United States intelligence agency

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a wartime intelligence agency of the United States during World War II, and a predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The OSS was formed as an agency of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Other OSS functions included the use of propaganda, subversion, and post-war planning. On December 14, 2016, the organization was collectively honored with a Congressional Gold Medal.

Allen Dulles CIA Director

Allen Welsh Dulles was an American diplomat and lawyer who became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), and its longest-serving director to date. As head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the early Cold War, he oversaw the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état, Operation Ajax, the Lockheed U-2 aircraft program and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Dulles was one of the members of the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Between his stints of government service, Dulles was a corporate lawyer and partner at Sullivan & Cromwell. His older brother, John Foster Dulles, was the Secretary of State during the Eisenhower Administration.

Milton Bearden is a retired Central Intelligence Agency officer, author and film consultant. Bearden was President and CEO of the Asia-Africa Projects Group, a Washington, D.C.-based resource development and advisory services firm from 2010-2015. He has been an author and film consultant since 1998. As of 2016, Bearden lives in Austin, Texas with his French-born wife, Marie-Catherine, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and the President of Académie de l'étiquette, a protocol and etiquette consulting group '

John Gardner (American writer) American novelist, essayist, literary critic and university professor

John Champlin Gardner Jr. was an American novelist, essayist, literary critic and university professor. He is best known for his 1971 novel Grendel, a retelling of the Beowulf myth from the monster's point of view.

Ronald Kessler American journalist

Ronald Borek Kessler is an American journalist and author of 21 non-fiction books about the White House, U.S. Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Seven of his books have appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list.

Peter Matthiessen American novelist

Peter Matthiessen was an American novelist, naturalist, wilderness writer, zen teacher and CIA agent. A co-founder of the literary magazine The Paris Review, he was the only writer to have won the National Book Award in both fiction and nonfiction. He was also a prominent environmental activist. Matthiessen's nonfiction featured nature and travel, notably The Snow Leopard (1978) and American Indian issues and history, such as a detailed and controversial study of the Leonard Peltier case, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983). His fiction was adapted for film: the early story "Travelin' Man" was made into The Young One (1960) by Luis Buñuel and the novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965) into the 1991 film of the same name.

Renata Adler is an American author, journalist, and film critic. Adler was a staff writer-reporter for The New Yorker, and in 1968–69, she served as chief film critic for The New York Times. Adler is also a writer of fiction.

John Joseph Loftus, is an American author, former high level U.S. government prosecutor and former Army intelligence officer. He is the president of the Intelligence Summit.

James Risen American journalist

James Risen is an American journalist for The Intercept. He previously worked for The New York Times and before that for Los Angeles Times. He has written or co-written many articles concerning U.S. government activities and is the author or co-author of two books about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a book about the American public debate about abortion. Risen is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Brad E. Leithauser is an American poet, novelist, essayist, and teacher. After serving as the Emily Dickinson Lecturer in the Humanities at Mount Holyoke College and visiting professor at the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he is now on faculty at the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars.

Victor Leo Marchetti, Jr. was a special assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency who later became a prominent paleoconservative critic of the United States Intelligence Community and the Israel lobby in the United States.

Samuel Alexander Adams, known as Sam Adams, was an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He is best known for his role in discovering that during the mid-1960s American military intelligence had underestimated the number of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers. Although his opinion was challenged, he pushed the case for a higher troop count. The issue under debate was called the Order of Battle (O/B). His efforts in 1967 met strong and persistent opposition from the Army which, in the short-term, prevailed against him.

<i>The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence</i> non-fiction political book written by Victor Marchetti

The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence is a 1974 controversial non-fiction political book written by Victor Marchetti, a former special assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and John D. Marks, a former officer of the United States Department of State.

Mark Riebling is an American author. He has written two books: Wedge: The Secret War between the FBI and CIA and Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler.

T. J. Stiles award-winning American biographer

T. J. Stiles is an American biographer who lives in Berkeley, California. His book The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt won a National Book Award and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. His book Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History.

Rufus Lackland Taylor was an officer in the United States Navy. Eventually he became Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence and held the rank of Vice Admiral. In 1966 he was appointed as Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), then shortly thereafter as Deputy Director of the CIA, where he served from 1966 to 1969.

David Wise was an American journalist and author who worked for the New York Herald-Tribune in the 1950s and 1960s, and published a series of non-fiction books on espionage and US politics as well as several spy novels. His book The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and Power (1973) won the George Polk Award, and the George Orwell Award (1975).


  1. "National Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  2. 1 2 Powers, Heisenberg's War (Penguin 1993) at ii, "About the Author".
  3. Evan Thomas (November 12, 2010). "A Good Day to Die". The New York Times. A Book Review of The Killing of Crazy Horse.
  4. 1 2 "Thomas Powers | The New York Review of Books". Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  5. "Thomas Powers - Authors". The Atlantic. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  6. Naftali, Timothy. "Thomas Powers News - The New York Times". Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  7. Toby Lester, "The Numbers Game. CIA analyst Sam Adams fought the intelligence establishment about its Vietnam policy like David fought Goliath", Book Review re Adams, in The Atlantic , February, 1997. Accessed 2017-01-12. (Review, with interview of Powers).
  8. "Thomas Powers - Authors". Random House. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2010-11-28. Includes recent photo.
  9. Back flap of The Man who Kept the Secrets (Knopf 1979).