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Casey's OSS Memoir Makes the Rounds

April 27, 1987|ELIZABETH MEHREN | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — A number of New York publishers are reviewing a manuscript by former Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Casey.

Casey, hospitalized in New York, was listed in critical condition with pneumonia late Sunday. His illness makes it appear that he will never fully explain his role in Irangate.

"Unfortunately," said Ned Chase, senior editor at Scribner's/Macmillan, "he's not doing the book we're all waiting for."

Instead, the book by the retired CIA chief is described as a history of the Office of Strategic Services in Europe. As a member of the OSS, Casey oversaw airdrops into Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

"Covert action, that is his wheel," Chase said.

Chase said Casey had been working on the book "over the last 10 years." The book's working title is "The Clandestine War Against Hitler."

Written in the first person, the book is both a "very respectable and good account of the war," and "a labor of love," Chase said.

"He is very steeped in things that interest him, like history," Chase said of Casey. "He has a very vivid sense of history, particularly for World War II."

A Voracious Reader

Before his surgery for a cancerous brain tumor in January, the 74-year-old Casey was said to have been a voracious reader who thought nothing of stopping at a bookstore and picking up $50 worth of books for a single evening. For a long airplane trip, Casey might have taken as many as 10 books--and read them all.

But since his resignation from the CIA, Casey's health is said to have deteriorated steadily. Chase said negotiations for the book are being handled by Casey's family.

Though he has visited with the Casey family at their estate on Long Island, Chase would not comment on the ex-CIA head's health.

Chase said that Scribner's/Macmillan is "considering" the Casey book on World War II, "and so are some other houses."

"The Clandestine War Against Hitler" has "nothing to do with the present scene whatsoever," Chase said.

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