David T. Riley dreamt big. His desire to be a superstar recording artist led the adolescent hoodlum into the fringes of organized crime. When the CIA needed recruits to carry out dangerous spying missions to Cuba, they found Riley languishing in a light green jumpsuit in Miami Dade County Jail awaiting trial. Street-smart, confident to the point of being cocky and extremely intelligent, the Agency believed he’d be able to talk his way out of any situation. Trained by the Feds to operate in a complex world of international crime, David became one of the Agency’s top operatives. The CIA’s use for him eventually waned, and with skills learned through covert work, Riley afforded himself an extensive career in gunrunning, drug dealing, fraud and embezzlement. Smooth Criminal by William Deane exposes how the Government’s secret release of criminals to conduct dangerous overseas assignments backfires when they return home.
In the early 1950s,
New York City's teachers and professors became the targets of massive
investigations into their political beliefs and associations. Those who refused
to cooperate in the questioning were fired. Priests of Our Democracy (NYU
Press, $42) by Marjorie Heins tells of the teachers and professors who
resisted the witch hunt, those who collaborated, and those whose battles led to
landmark Supreme Court decisions. Combining political and legal history with
wrenching personal stories, the book details how the anti-communist excesses of
the 1950s inspired the Supreme Court to recognize the vital role of teachers
and professors in American democracy. The crushing of dissent in the 1950s
impoverished political discourse in ways that are still being felt, and First
Amendment academic freedom, a product of that period, is in peril today.