Clandestine Operations Novel
by W. E. B. Griffin, William E. Butterworth
Interviewer: Elise Cooper
is a novel that mixes intrigue and diplomacy within
a suspenseful and enthralling story. An added bonus
is the sarcasm and humor sprinkled throughout the scenes.
Cooper: Can you tell us what is true in the book?
W.E.B. Griffin: I was there when I
was a kid. I knew and saw a lot. The Nazi General Reinhard
Gehlen, who became the head of German intelligence in
the, 1940s, did work for us to save his people from
the Russians. Also true are the Operations OST, Paperclip,
What about the women characters?
W.E.B: We also had many good women
who played a prominent role in 1940s Germany as spies
and intelligence analysts. Characters in the story like
my fictional Claudette Colbert were real and did carry
pistols, but the idea of her hiding it in her brassiere
was mine. They did this because we could not afford
to have them kidnapped. Seven-K was a character I created.
She was based on some Mossad agents who did work with
us in exchange for getting Zionists out of Russia.
Butterworth IV: There are fascinating stories
of women spies in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS),
the predecessor to the CIA, and their missions are the
stuff of legend. Yet the contributions made by the 4,000
women, including Julia Child and Marlene Dietrich are
largely unheralded. Exceptions include Elizabeth McIntosh’s
book Women of the OSS: Sisterhood Of Spies.
Can you explain this quote from the book, “The
DCI itself-was that its formation was going to displease
the Pentagon, the Navy, the State Department, and the
FBI, all of whom had urged the President to disestablish
the OSS and have its functions transferred to them.”
W.E.B: President Truman realized putting the OSS out
of business was a mistake. He created the DCI under
his buddy Rear Admiral Sidney Souers, who formerly worked
in insurance. He was in charge for about eighteen months,
but then wanted to go back to his profession to make
some money. Truman allowed them to do anything they
wanted, but they were not allowed to tell anyone else
what to do. Unfortunately, there was no cooperation
among the units. Truman purposely kept Central Intelligence
out of everyone’s hands but his. This caused bureaucratic
infighting, because Truman made sure he kept the sole
You interject humor in the story?
W.E.B: I love to write humor. If I
could make a living doing it that is all I would write.
The happiest period of my life is when I was writing
the sequels to MASH. I was able to ridicule everyone.
What is the difference between the CIC and the DCI?
Butterworth IV: CIC is the Counterintelligence
Corps and the DCI is the Directorate of Central Intelligence.
The DCI is the fictional name in the series for what
became the Central Intelligence Agency.
Is the story based on anyone?
IV: Dad said he subconsciously wrote in part,
about Rene J. Defourneaux, and called their relationship
cousin-like. He was an Army OSS Second Lt. and later
became a legendary US Army intelligence officer. Like
a lot of highly intelligent spooks he also had a terrific
sense of humor. I am intrigued by the history and stories
of these men and women.
What is the process you both use to write the books
W.E.B: We talk a lot. I send to him
a chapter and he tells me what he thinks: ‘don’t
do this’ or ‘do this’. One of us will
write 90% of a book and the other 10%, and then it reverses
with another book. Billy is a very good editor and had
been one for sixteen years before we began working together
on a daily basis.
Butterworth IV:Dad lived this period,
knew the principles from having worked with General
White and others, so he wrote most of this book. And
I added what I could. A good editor has an invisible
hand in the work, making suggestions and edits that
help the story without changing the writer’s distinctive
Speaking of edits, would you ever put in the front of
the book a list of characters and their relevance?
IV:I can see it as possibly a companion book,
but do not like doing that because it bogs down the
MyShelf.com and Elise want to thank Mr Griffin &
Mr Butterworth IV for taking the time to give this interview.
HERE TO READ ELISE'S REVIEW