My first book is Errand into the Wilderness of Mirrors: Religion and the History of the CIA (University of Chicago Press, 2021).
This book is a study of how the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and its spiritual successor the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), engaged and studied religious traditions around the world in the service of U.S. empire. American intelligence officers drew on existing, often stereotypical, information about “foreign” religions even as they revised these ideas to be more useful to national security goals. Between World War II and the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the OSS and CIA honed this new strategy in the context of two thriving discourses in American culture: a renewed attention to religious pluralism as well as a newfound national interest in “world religions.” In so doing, American intelligence officers reshaped American perceptions of religion as a central component of American identity and national security.
Other parts of this story have been published in the U.S. Catholic Historian, as well as essays featured in Spy Chiefs: Intelligence Leaders in the United States and United Kingdom (Georgetown University Press, 2018) and North American Churches in the Cold War (Eerdmans, 2018).
I’d be happy talk about this book and my research with your class or group. Please contact me for more information.