The latest release from IHS Press tells the story of one of the most powerful people you’ve never heard of. Gentleman in the Shadows: Benjamin C. Evans Jr. and the Central Intelligence Agency by Douglas A. Wissing is the first-ever biography of Evans, a covert CIA officer and top-level executive during the darkest days of the Cold War.
With help from family archives, CIA documents and on-the-record interviews, Gentleman in the Shadows reveals how Evans quietly ran a vast government agency as elected leaders came and went. A CIA officer for more than 20 years, Evans deftly managed the CIA through four presidents and seven directors of central intelligence.
Gentleman in the Shadows is a book about a remarkable American living in tumultuous times. Through the depths of the Cold War, Evans helped make and execute world-shaping CIA decisions. From his early career as a clandestine officer in revolutionary Cuba to his days as a CIA executive in Washington during the harrowing Cold War missile crises and the Watergate and Family Jewels furor, Evans was a player in major events in American history.
While Gentleman in the Shadows is a book about Evans, it’s also a story about CIA families and the prices they pay for their service. Evans’s widow, Jan King Evans, is a scion of old Washington aristocracy. Her family archives and recollections shared during hundreds of hours of interviews provide a privileged view into the private life of this ever-discrete intelligence official. Interviews with other family members and close friends also reveal rich detail, such as Evans’s toddler daughter Karla dragging her beloved Fidel Castro doll through the family’s Havana villa as her father ran a string of secret anti-Castro agents.
When Evans retired in 1981, the CIA awarded him the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, one of the agency’s highest honors. Upbeat and positive even in the face of some of the CIA’s darkest days, Evans once wrote of his time with the CIA, “I’ve never had a dull day and perhaps due to some ‘character flaw’ enjoyed each one.”
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About the Author
Douglas A. Wissing is an award-winning journalist and author of numerous books, including Hopeless but Optimistic: Journeying through America’s Endless War in Afghanistan, Funding the Enemy and Pioneer in Tibet. He has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, Politico, Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the BBC and CNN.com, among other publications.