Back to Top

History of the CIA (The Great Courses Series)

3 Credits
No Ratings

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is America's premier intelligence organization, charged with keeping constant watch in an increasingly dangerous and unstable world. Some critics have accused it of not doing enough to protect US national security. In the view of others, it has done too much, intervening excessively overseas and threatening civil liberties at home. Are these criticisms of the CIA justified? The aim of this course is to give you the information you need to decide for yourself.

As well as learning about the CIA's history from its founding to the present day, you will encounter a range of fascinating personalities. Among these are directors of the CIA such as Allen Dulles, the spy romantic who presided over the CIA's during the 1950s; the amiable but lightweight George Tenet, undone by a debacle in the War on Terror; and the CIA's first woman director, Gina Haspel, haunted by her past association with the CIA's torture program. You will also be introduced to the directors' most important lieutenants, including the covert-operations chief Frank Wisner, the adventurous aristocrat Kim Roosevelt, the legendary Edward Lansdale, and the counterintelligence guru James Angleton. Finally, you will meet the CIA's greatest foreign foes. Such figures include the Iranian prime minister overthrown by Kim Roosevelt, Mohammed Mosaddeq; Fidel Castro, the Cuban who survived repeated Agency attempts to eliminate him; and the terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Between them, these various individuals personified deep tensions in the CIA's history that furnish the themes of this course: the fundamental contradiction between the CIA's dual intelligence and covert-action missions, successive presidents' desire for secret intelligence and covert operations versus the public's preference for openness and transparency, and the ongoing challenge of serving as the secret intelligence service of the world's largest democracy. Assignments address the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) History Standards. Note: Course guidebook is included with the cost of the course.

Dr. Andrew Herrick

I am currently Director of Academic Development and a faculty member at Fresno Pacific University. I am responsible for all course offerings and marketing through the Office of Continuing Education, which includes identifying and developing new programs, courses, and instructors who are passionate about Christian higher education. I actively teach graduate, undergraduate, and professional development online courses for the university.