Mazurkiewicz on Jones, 'A Covert Action: Reagan, the CIA, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland'

Seth G. Jones
Anna Mazurkiewicz

Seth G. Jones. A Covert Action: Reagan, the CIA, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2018. Illustrations. viii + 418 pp. $27.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-393-24700-8.

Reviewed by Anna Mazurkiewicz (Universytet Gdański) Published on H-Poland (October, 2019) Commissioned by Anna Muller (University of Michigan - Dearborn)

Printable Version:

CIA and the Polish Way to 1989

The thirtieth anniversary of the 1989 watershed events in Poland prompts one to reconsider the circumstances, events, and people leading the Polish way out of Communism. Three decades after the Round Table Talks Agreement, the deal between the Communist government and the democratic opposition continues to provoke heated political debates in Poland. While the authorities of the city of Gdańsk in cooperation with the European Solidarity Center and numerous social, cultural, and academic organizations have recently organized remarkable celebrations of the thirtieth anniversary of the partially free “June elections,” the government of Poland decided to shift its attention to other anniversaries it deemed worthy of its support. Irrespective of current political divisions, however, in 2019 all Poles seem to be united in celebrating the Polish-American friendship. It was a hundred years ago that the two countries established diplomatic relations. It is in this context that one wants to ask about the American role in the Polish transition to democracy in the late 1980s. What’s new to read on the topic?

The most recent book on US support for the democratic opposition in Poland was published in 2018. Under a spicy title, A Covert Action, Seth G. Jones tells the story of QRHELPFUL, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program of assistance to Solidarity in Poland that was active between 1983 and 1989. The book has already garnered some popular attention. Its reviews appeared in both the Washington Times and Gazeta Wyborcza.[1] Although popular in its character, this widely promoted book deserves a broader comment, since it is said to be the first to provide evidence on the CIA’s role in supporting Solidarity.

The author, a specialist in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, has thus far focused on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and al-Qaida. Jones was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the US Naval Postgraduate School, senior political scientist at RAND Corporation, and later representative for the commander of US Special Operations Command to the assistant secretary of Defense. Currently he is the Harold Brown Chair and director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. This is the first time he took on the topic that is related to the history of Poland, or Soviet-dominated East Central Europe. As he explained during the book launch at the CSIS in September 2018, the idea for the book came to him as a “business decision from the publisher.”[2] However, as this year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the demise of Communism in East Central Europe, this book can also be regarded as a reminder that Americans played a significant role in advancing these changes. In fact, readers of intelligence studies will quickly note that QRHELPFUL could be called, as one reviewer put it: “CIA’s finest hour.” After all, the book focuses on a story of the agency’s “perhaps most successful covert action program regardless of the standard of measure.”[3]

The book consists of twenty-four chapters organized in three parts. Chapters 1 through 5 (part 1) constitute biographic sketches of Lech Wałęsa, Wojciech Jaruzelski, Ronald Reagan, and William Casey. The names of Richard Malzahn, Ryszard Kukliński, and Jerzy Giedroyc are introduced as well. The author continues their stories in later parts of the book in between sections dealing with the CIA operations targeting Poland.

The first part of the book was likely intended to offer context to the Polish story of the 1980s, yet it gives very little context to the CIA operations. Casey’s leadership of the agency (1981-87) and the global scope of the agency’s anti-Communist offensive would be much more useful to show the Polish program in the proper framework. Instead, the reader learns about Wałęsa (chapter 1) mostly through his own words and Jaruzelski (chapter 2) through either Western journalists, his own words, or Kukliński’s report. While highly readable, the sections related to Poland are based on outdated literature, most of which was written by journalists in the 1990s.

Given the current state of research on both Wałęsa and Jaruzelski, the book could have presented a much deeper, multidimensional portrayal of these men. This would have helped the author to avoid flat, at times simplistic judgments. This book’s purpose was to write on neither Wałęsa nor Jaruzelski, though. Its focus, as indicated by the author, should be on the CIA’s “most successful” and “least known” efforts to aid the grassroots movement that “was already legitimate to the Poles” (p. 10).

The sections related to intelligence operations truly begin to captivate readers’ attention with the introduction of Richard “Dick” Malzahn (in chapter 4) and Cecilia “Celia” Larkin (both of the CIA). Their names are an important addition to the literature on the topic. At this point, however, the author ventures back to the narrative focused on the leaders. As a result, the operations of Malzahn and Larkin are not described in detail.

Based on the author’s account, this is what we learn: within the CIA’s International Activities Division, Malzahn was the chief of the Soviet-East Europe Group (SEG), placed within the Political-Psychological Staff (PPS). In 1985 he was replaced by Boyd Bishop, about whom we learn next to nothing. Larkin was a Polish-speaking employee of the agency’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service, which collected information from foreign media, who upon completing an “accelerated operations course” became a case officer based in Paris (p. 151). Both Malzahn and Larkin were crucial to the development of the CIA covert operation, which we now know by the code name of QRHELPFUL.

The bulk of the information on QRHELPFUL is in the second part of Jones’s book. The “covert operation” advertised in the title is described in chapters 9 (“The Birth of QRHELPFUL”), 11 (“Getting Off the Ground”), 12 (“Ratlines”), and 18 (“A Global Campaign”). The general description of QRHELPHUL can be summarized in the following way. In January 1983 the CIA started a project of expanding covert support to the democratic opposition in Poland, which consisted of three elements: sending communications equipment and printing material; helping families of prisoners and refugees; and organizing a global propaganda campaign in support of Solidarity. The CIA had no direct contact with the Solidarity underground, either in Poland or from abroad, as money and material passed through “assets” stationed in the West, who in most cases were not aware of the sources. There is no publicly available data on the specific types and amounts of aid that the CIA provided through its assets to Solidarity, or on how it was used. CIA case officers had limited control over the program.

Among the key recipients of the agency’s help were Radio Solidarity (which started its operations in April 1983), the highly influential Tygodnik Mazowsze (fifty thousand copies), and thousands of publications printed (later recorded on VCR cassettes) and distributed outside of the Communist government’s control. The CIA supplied technology that allowed Solidarity to counter the regime’s monopoly on radio and TV broadcasting. The International Activities Division used its media assets and outlets worldwide to promote Solidarity’s cause, which included anything from Solidarity pins, buttons, and stickers, to pro-Solidarity demonstrations on certain anniversaries, articles planted in the world press, TV and radio interviews, and publications of special bulletins.

All of this happening in the aftermath of martial law (imposed on December 13, 1981, suspended by the end of 1982, and finally lifted on July 22, 1983). As the interest and hopes for Solidarity’s survival were melting, the CIA kept the democratic opposition vigorous until 1989. The operation finally came to an end in 1991. At this time the CIA’s Soviet-East European division took it over from PPS to terminate assets and operations.

In sum, the author claims that “at a cost of less than $20 million, CIA helped the Poles—without arms—to resist and defeat the Moscow-backed regime in Warsaw and set in motion the momentous events that followed” (p. 297). The twenty million dollars is the stated cost of QRHELPFUL.

The story seems worthy of scholars’ attention, yet for historians who wish to use Jones’s book as a reference point great disappointment awaits. Nowhere in the book is there a single document or otherwise identifiable source to confirm the existence of either QRHELPFUL (the program) or any of its operatives’ code names. Each time code names appear in the book the endnote says “author’s interviews with multiple sources.” While the first endnote of the book validates a sentence describing the weather information for December 12, 1981[!], out of the twenty-eight times that the author offers an endnote for QRHEPFUL, none contains a single identifiable source to prove that such a program existed. Moreover, while criticizing earlier authors, Jones claims with full might that President Reagan did sign the presidential finding (November 4, 1982) authorizing the CIA to undertake QRHELPFUL. Again, however, we search in vain for any factual evidence.

While trying to verify the credibility of the book a review of Covert Action by Benjamin B. Fisher comes in handy.[4] Not only was he a CIA historian who already wrote a still classified history of QRHELPFUL, but according to Jones he was also involved in operations under Malzahn. By the way, both Fisher and Malzahn read the draft of Jones’s book. In the review, which is rather an addendum to Jones’s book, Fisher also refers to Reagan’s presidential finding of November 4, 1982. The president must have signed it because “the CIA could not have initiated a new covert action program without a finding”—that’s what we are left with by the author (p. 139).

This is not to say that Jones did not use primary sources. Given the peculiar character of the underground operations, collecting archival documentation is extremely difficult. The archival queries conducted by the author for the sake of writing this book are many. However, in the context of the “covert action” there is little new evidence for a scholar to follow. Cited archival collections, like declassified documents available at the Woodrow Wilson Center, National Security Archive, CIA files available via the CIA Records Search Tool (CREST), or the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room, bear no new evidence to the QRHELPFUL story. The William J. Casey Papers (624 boxes) at the Hoover Institution Archives are used by Jones only to cite from a manuscript of a book deposited there. No Polish archives were used. While the introduction mentions the European Solidarity Center and the Institute of National Remembrance, the former’s collections are used in the form of referencing an exhibit catalogue and anthology (published in 2015), while the latter is not used at all. What is possibly worth pursuing further, except for the sources (files and people) that remain unknown, are the Reagan Presidential Library collections, especially the Paula Dobriansky files.

We know from the acknowledgments section that both Paula Dobriansky and John Lenczowski were consulted by the author. Both joined Reagan’s national security staff (Soviet and East European Affairs) at a very young age. Interestingly, neither Dobriansky nor Lenczowski appear in the endnotes as interviewees. In other parts of the book, Richard Pipes, Zbigniew Brzeziński, and Edwin Meese III are mentioned by name. I understand that some people may not want to be identified at all, as acknowledged by Jones, but mentioning their input and (likely) not referencing their statements is somehow difficult to agree with. In the case of not-identified sources, the author could have at least mentioned how many there were and number them or assign fake names just like he did in the case of the “Polish assets.”

By mid-1983, the CIA had twenty “assets,” later to be expanded to thirty. These were used to run three kinds of operations: engaging in covert action (movement of materials to Poland, use of distribution networks); focusing media attention on Poland; and through the use of “surrogates,” raising and moving money into Poland (p. 156). Did the author try to obtain permission to release the names of people hidden under CIA code names (QRGUIDE, QACARROTTOP, QTOCCUR) or under bogus names (Stanisław Broda, Artur Kowalski) he gave them? Did he attempt to interview them?

In the Polish literature on the topic one can find multiple accounts of cooperation with “friends from the West.” Mirosław Chojecki (Paris), Jan Chodakowski (London), and the late Jerzy Kulczycki (London) come to mind first. But immediately thereafter, a reader in American covert action programs targeting countries behind the Iron Curtain realizes that the precedent of working for (or with) George Minden, like Kulczycki, should also be mentioned along with Piotr Jegliński (Paris), Andrzej Chilecki (Koln), and Norbert Żaba (Stockholm). Then the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) comes to our attention with Jerzy Milewski (Brussels), Józef Lebenbaum (Lund), Seweryn Blumsztajn and Jan Lasota (Paris), Eugeniusz Smolar (London), and Irena Lasota (New York).[5] To the best of my knowledge in none of the Polish publications does one find the names of Larkin or Malzahn, though.

The third part of the book deals with the Polish transition to democracy and adds very little to what we already know. On the role of the CIA we learn practically nothing. We read about the color of Reagan’s tie but there is no comment on the US role in fostering the compromise between Communists and Solidarity in 1988 and 1989. We read about assistance with campaigning but there is no detailed information to hinge on. Some of the stories, like the one on who put the ballot instead of a gun into Gary Cooper’s hand will not be taken lightly by the Polish readers who are likely to fall for late Tomasz Sarnecki’s version.[6]

The author’s focus is clearly on the White House. Reagan, who is mentioned in the title of the book, remains the central figure in Jones’s narrative. The American president’s emotional response to the Polish crisis and leading role in molding pro-Polish sentiment among the American people as well as Western leaders is properly signaled. However, very little attention is given to the economic sanctions against both the Polish People’s Republic and the USSR, and their impact. Also, the reader will not learn why, given the fact that the Americans knew about plans to introduce martial law in Poland and had contacts with the Polish opposition, Solidarity members were not warned about the martial plan before it was implemented. Generally, apart from a discussion of the elements of the Reagan doctrine, the political context of the 1980s, including US relations with the USSR, is not fully explained. For this, one would have to refer readers to an earlier, and favorably reviewed many times already, book by Gregory F. Domber.[7]

Jones’s book complements Domber’s work with a description of the CIA’s role. In further relation to Domber’s book, however, it remains to be unveiled what US ambassador John R. Davis’s role was in the clandestine operations carried out under QRHELPFUL. Jones writes that Davis was aware of the program and discusses the cables sent from Warsaw, yet he draws no conclusions related to the embassy’s role in accompanying the CIA’s operations from these cables.

Covert Action is not an academic book. It is a highly readable book devoting more attention to a single operation than to the larger issues at stake. Therefore, it is possible that the author may be exaggerating the importance of QRHELPFUL’s role in supporting the underground movement in Poland in the 1980s, even if taken against the CIA’s overall involvement. It must be emphasized that programs supervised and/or sponsored by the American intelligence had been directed to Poland for three decades before QRHELPFUL was initiated. The long-term impact of these programs must be considered if we wish to analyze the American role in fostering change in Poland.

Jones mentions the fact that “CIA assistance to Solidarity complemented other aid” but focuses on stating that it was double that of the NED (1983-89) (p. 241). While we know where the NED money went to,[8] we do not know where QRHELPFUL resources were distributed. Moreover, we do not learn what other CIA programs were active at the time in Poland. What we do know is that with the NED, congressional authorization to continue Radio Free Europe’s broadcast and a plethora of organizations sending assistance to Poland (humanitarian, religious, émigré, ethnic, labor, etc.)—a web so neatly described by Domber—the importance of QRHELPFUL fades. The author does not make a convincing point that it was different from other operations (smuggling books, supplying polygraphic materials, sending money). Neither does he give agency to the CIA operatives, other than Larkin. Using CIA stations in Europe as an illustration of the mighty scope of QRHELPFUL also prompts questions about whether the author keeps the right proportions of this particular project that we now learned a code name for, but that must have been just one of many concurrently running operations.

Jones mentions earlier operations in passing, clearly being fascinated mostly by Giedroyc’s operations at Maisons-Laffitte. The negligible attention given to the Free Europe Committee (FEC) is surprising. This American-based and American-run organization (financed by the CIA) also supported the journal Kultura, for example, by purchasing the entire run of a given publication, using private foundations to channel support for émigré travel. FEC was, however, a much greater operation, having an impact on many levels, from broadcasting directly to the people behind the Iron Curtain (Radio Free Europe) and supporting Minden’s book distribution project, to lobbying globally, using many assets at its disposal, like the West European Advisory Group or the émigré Assembly of Captive European Nations.[9] When considering American intelligence agencies, readers will not learn about the 1940s covert operations authorized by President Harry S. Truman or the development of information programs under Dwight D. Eisenhower.[10]

American assistance to the opposition in Poland of the 1980s must be considered in yet another context. As anti-Communist resistance was crushed during the Stalinist era, the opposition activity of the Poles shifted abroad to the political exiles and émigré intellectuals who continued their mission, often with American support. As Paweł Sowiński points out, by the 1980s a large number of high quality underground publications were available abroad precisely because the Polish diaspora in the West remained intellectually active and strove to preserve the national heritage, including historical accounts untouched by Communist censorship.[11] The texts printed and smuggled, reprinted, or broadcast to Poland did not need to be translated or adapted for foreign audiences. These were written by authentic, legitimate, and influential Polish sources who found refuge in the West after World War II or who escaped in later periods, for example, in 1968 or in 1981-83. For instance, the reader of Covert Action will not learn that Aneks (the journal), which received money from the CIA and which had to be—as Jones puts it—“spanned off” to be sponsored by the NED, emerged in the early 1970s in the aftermath of anti-Semitic and anti-intellectual harassment that took place in Poland (p. 266).

In their accounts, the Poles working with the Americans, whom I would not call “assets” but rather associates or partners (as the author almost does on pages 155, 165, and 171), are nearly unanimously appreciative of the help received from “the West.” Under this umbrella-like phrase, there lies a plethora of organizations among which the American government is often listed as well. Regarding the 1980s, even if the CIA offered the largest source of financial support with the means of QRHELPFUL, based on Jones’s account, it does not appear to have had enough agency and control over the actual operations. What was the impact of this “covert action” then?

The author argues that the CIA’s money kept Solidarity going after the movement’s peak of popularity both in Poland and abroad had passed. In 1983 martial law was lifted but underground Solidarity leaders were still being persecuted. Jones writes that the CIA’s “cash was the lubricant of the underground” and that the agency’s support “made the opposition press much more prominent and visible” (pp. 155, 179). The CIA helped generate media coverage and provided money and resources to help Solidarity organize demonstrations, distribute newspapers and leaflets, run radio stations, and even break into Polish state TV programs. These activities boosted the opposition’s local support, morale, and effectiveness. But from the same reading, we also learn that rather than sending cash, the CIA gave the money “to assets” in Western countries to purchase materials and smuggle them into Poland.

In this regard, I believe émigré networks are almost entirely neglected in Jones’s narrative. No mention is made of where and how these emerged (even when considering the so-called Solidarity wave, which alone is estimated at a million refugees). Jones also skips the impact the CIA’s action had on the professionalization of underground publishing in Poland. Was there any connection between QRHELPFUL and the emergence of the Fundusz Wydawnictw Niezależnych (Independent Publishing Fund), a consortium that administered Western money in Poland? What about the long-term consequences of the CIA’s involvement, like the emergence of early media entrepreneurs in post-Communist Poland?[12]

Instead, Jones summarizes that QRHELPFUL did not create anything, as Reagan and the CIA already had an ally. While Jones writes that “the long, grinding patience of Reagan and the CIA helped Solidarity survive its darkest days,” Fisher adds: “Evidently, had the Reagan administration not stepped up at a critical juncture Solidarity might well have disappeared forever” and “QRHELPFUL bought time for changes in Poland, as well as the Soviet Union, that altered the postwar world order.”[13] Jones sums up by acknowledging that it was the American economic and military preponderance that put an end to the Soviet Empire at which point “Solidarity’s opportunity finally came..., and the Polish people embraced democracy” (p. 308). This far-reaching assumption needs to be supplemented.

The CIA does look good by Jones’s account, but the reader must realize this is just a small part of the agency’s role in the 1980s, just like the Polish case was one of many that occupied the attention of the White House and Langley (Virginia). Polish operations were part of a larger CIA offensive in its confrontation with the Soviets. Maintaining viable opposition in Poland meant that the Communists had to draw resources from other regions. Reagan used the opposition movement to his advantage in working against the USSR; he applied pressure on Moscow, while paying genuine but rather sentimental tribute to Solidarity. Symptomatically, the workers’ 21 demands of August 1980 are mentioned in one endnote (p. 96n17). Conversely, to the anti-Communist Poles Reagan was a source of inspiration and hope, but not because of CIA money (which only the Communists openly claimed was pouring in) but rather because of his firm political standoff with the Soviets (sanctions) and continuing public expressions of support for Solidarity.

A more general takeaway from Jones’s book could possibly be, as the author puts it, that “the program [QRHELPFUL] showed that covert action could be a critical US foreign policy tool in cases where the US government’s role needs to be hidden to protect the US and its local allies. While the American public often focuses on the role of CIA paramilitary activity—including the use of drone strikes in such countries as Pakistan and Yemen—covert action remains critical in such areas as political action” (p. 309). It seems as if the author is trying to use the Polish example to make a larger point regarding US engagement on behalf of the opposition in countries where freedom, including freedom of the press, is restricted.

Not delving into the history of failed attempts to use covert action by the CIA, it must be stated that the Polish example is a peculiar one and must be interpreted in an appropriate context, also regarding American-Polish relations and pro-American sentiments present in Poland that even under the vicious Communist propaganda prevail to this day. One cannot neglect the fact that Moscow’s role in Poland was one of foreign domination. Poles looked up to the West (and the Polish diaspora) with hope and expected [!] assistance. It is important to emphasize not just the agency of the Poles (as Jones does) but also the Polish democratic tradition, devotion to the idea of an independent state, and popular belief that Poland was culturally bound with the West European heritage. In other words, American involvement in Poland is to be interpreted not so much in terms of the efficiency model of a single covert political action, but rather as an example of how multiple programs aimed to keep the generation born and brought up under Communism informed and aware of the suppressed country’s traditions and thus to maintain dissent. In that sense, information as well as high-brow culture (journals like Kultura, academic books read over Radio Free Europe, memoirs of political exiles who maintained prewar political structures in the West, etc.) did play a tremendous role, albeit not directly influencing the popular workers’ movement that culminated in Solidarity—a social movement ten-million people strong. Over three decades of building networks, publishing works prohibited in Poland, lobbying Western governments, keeping the Poles abreast of the true facts, and maintaining hope via broadcast and other media provided a base for QRHELPFUL operations—as just one part of an American global confrontation with the USSR.

The greatest asset of this book describing the reemergence of American plans of waging underground political warfare behind the Iron Curtain is that it gives scholars acronyms of operations and the CIA’s “assets.” The inspiring impact of Jones’s book can be that the Polish publications on the topic that contain numerous (identifiable) oral histories can now be correlated with the American side of the story. Now that Jones gave us the dates, code names, and a few hints as to the who, where, and what, researchers can pick it up and reconcile the two sides of the story. The impact of Jones’s book could also be that the CIA will finally acknowledge this operation and declassify at least some of the files related to it. An increased number of FOIA requests is to be expected to combine the Polish with the American sources. Especially that as of now, we do not have a single verifiable citation for QRHELPFUL. This is the most serious flaw of the book.

Furthermore, it must be noted that this volume does not contain a bibliography, which is both unusual and inconvenient. The few key maps are neither listed nor referenced. Minor editing mistakes, like a few missing letters, do not interfere with the reading. Maybe spelling Andreszj (Andrzej) or listing a first name (Ewa) instead of a last name (Konarowska) in the endnotes should have been avoided by the publishers. On a more serious note, using the infamous “Poland as a corridor through which Germany attacked Russia” reference without proper attribution to Joseph Stalin, the author repeats Franklin D. Roosevelt’s gaffe (pp. 20-21). It is striking since later (on page 40), he correctly puts these words into the Soviet leader’s mouth. Also, from an expert of Jones’s stature, I would expect that he would not use the term Red Army throughout the book, since already in 1946 it was renamed the Soviet Army. If it is truly necessary to publish further editions of the book, I suggest elaborating on Władysław Gomułka, as well as on the role of US and British embassies reporting on elections in 1947. I would also correct the information related to bestowing the Polish Order of the White Eagle to Reagan. Jones writes that it was “only bestowed on Poles until this moment,” which is not correct (p. 299). Many foreigners received it, including another American president—Woodrow Wilson. Finally, Jaruzelski did not resign in 1991 (p. 311). In December 1990 Wałęsa was sworn in as president following the first fully free elections in postwar Poland, and the author knows it as evident by his own writing (p.  313).

Regardless of these flaws, Jones’s book is a welcome addition to the discussion on American involvement in Poland in the post-Yalta era. However, for the complete story of American support of Solidarity, I would refer H-Poland readers to turn to the already acclaimed and highly prized work by Domber. Extremely well researched, based on well-sourced interviews, using archives from both countries, and analyzing US policy choices against larger Washington-Moscow game play, it is a gem to read. Sure, it does not mention QRHELPFUL and for that name we shall be grateful to Jones, but for reviewing the issue, make sure you have a copy of Domber’s work at home and at your university’s library. It will inspire you to follow the situation in Poland as it enters its fourth decade of post-Communist existence, as a loyal ally of the United States and, significantly, one of the most pro-American nations in the European Union.[14]


[1]. Joseph C. Goulden, “America’s Part in Freeing Poland,” Op.Ed., Washington Times, September 4, 2018,; and Paweł Sowiński, “Jak CIA pomagała ‘Solidarności’: Tajna operacja QRHELPFUL,” Gazeta Wyborcza, February, 18, 2019.

[2]. Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Book Launch: A Covert Action,” streamed live on September 19, 2018, YouTube video,

[3]. Benjamin B. Fisher, “Repudiating Yalta,” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 32, no. 2 (2019): 397.

[4]. Fisher, “Repudiating Yalta,” 397-98.

[5]. Jerzy Kulczycki, Atakować książką (Warsaw: IPN, 2016); Marian Kaleta, Emigrancka Spółka “Szmugiel”: Wspomnienia dostawcy sprzętu poligraficznego przemycanego do Polski dla opozycji antykomunistycznej w latach 1978-1989 (Warsaw: IPN, 2015); Marcin Łaszczyński, “‘Krąg’ i jego krąg: Wydawnictwo w świetle relacji,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość 2, no. 16 (2010): 139-70; and Magdalena Heruday-Kiełczewska, “Solidarność” nad Sekwaną: Działalność Komitetu Koordynacyjnego NSZZ “Solidarność” w Paryżu 1981-1989 (Gdańsk: ECS, 2016). See also Paweł Sowiński, “Zimna wojna na pióra w latach 1977-1988,” in Świat wobec “Solidarności” 1980-1989, ed. Paweł Jaworski and Łukasz Kamiński (Warsaw: IPN, 2013), 688-702. This volume contains four chapters relevant to this book under review, on US policy toward Poland (by Jakub Tyszkiewicz), the NED and Poland (by Gregory Domber), the Catholic Church in the US and Solidarity (by Bernard Cook), and the AFL-CIO (by Eric Chenoweth). Sowiński is a specialist on underground publishing in Poland. He collected oral histories, testimonies, and documents, and also wrote on the transport of books from abroad. See Paweł Sowiński, Tajna dyplomacja: Książki emigracyjne w drodze do kraju 1956-1989 (Warsaw: Więź, 2016).

[6]. Tomasz Skory, “Rozbrojony Gary Cooper, czyli historia jednego plakatu,” June 4, 2018, RMF,

[7]. Gregory F. Domber, Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the End of the Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

[8]. Domber, Empowering Revolution, 283-88.

[9]. Katalin Kadar Lynn, ed., Inauguration of “Organized Political Warfare”: The Cold War Organizations Sponsored by the National Committee for a Free Europe/Free Europe Committee (Saint Helena, CA: Helena History Press, 2013); Alfred A. Reich, Hot Books in the Cold War: The CIA-Funded Secret Western Book Distribution Program behind the Iron Curtain (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2013); and A. Ross Johnson, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010).

[10]. Stephen Long, The CIA and the Soviet Bloc: Political Warfare, the Origins of the CIA and Countering Communism in Europe (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014); and Kenneth Osgood, Total Cold War: Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006).

[11]. Sowiński, “Zimna wojna na pióra,” 689-90, 692-96.

[12]. Sowiński, “Zimna wojna na pióra,” 694-96.

[13]. Fisher, “Repudiating Yalta,” 406.

[14]. Richard Wike, Bruce Stokes, Jacob Poushter, Laura Silver, Janell Fetterolf, and Kat Devlin, “America’s International Image Continues to Suffer,” PEW Research Center: Global Attitudes & Trends, October 1, 2018,

Citation: Anna Mazurkiewicz. Review of Jones, Seth G., A Covert Action: Reagan, the CIA, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland. H-Poland, H-Net Reviews. October, 2019. URL:

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