“Do you trust the CIA? Incoming president Donald Trump compared the U.S. intelligence community to Nazi Germany. CIA director John Brennan called those comments “outrageous.” In response, Trump blasted Brennan for perceived failures in Syria, Crimea and the Ukraine.

Whether you trust the CIA has a lot to do with which of the two versions of its history you read. The official version focuses on lives saved, wars averted and the bravery of individual agents. It’s also the version you get from Hollywood, in films the CIA helped make including Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.

The second version is marginal, but in many ways, ascendant. It focuses on the CIA’s coups and death squads, secret wars and extra-judicial drone strikes. Joel Whitney’s Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers falls squarely into the second camp.

Whitney chronicles the CIA’s secret establishment of literary magazines at the start of the Cold War that helped launch the careers of a generation of luminaries such as James Baldwin, Pablo Neruda and Gabriel García Márquez. They also censored authors who wanted to write about how the United States treated Black people, CIA-backed coups in Latin America and the war in Vietnam.”

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