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Pick of the paperbacks; The Man Who Kept The Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA, by Thomas Powers. New york: Pocket Books. $3.50

The Central Intelligence Agency takes solid form in this engrossing, albeit complex and detailed, book about Richard Helms. Published soon after widespread condemnation of the agency in the post-Watergate era, the book presents the knotty details of the CIA's best-known blunders. The author shows how the intelligence agency, while being culpable in a number of serious errors, is directed and influenced by the Executive Branch.

Helms, CIA director from 1966 to 1973, is presented sympathetically as a competent official who displayed more caution than most of his colleagues and bosses. Often, he would be ordered against his better judgment to involve the CIA in such dark adventures as the destabilization of the Salvador Allende regime in Chile.

While not light reading, the book is, however, a potent view of the workings o f the CIA.

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