Pot Shards: Fragments of a Life Lived in CIA, the White House, and the Two Koreas

Pot Shards: Fragments of a Life Lived in CIA, the White House, and the Two Koreas

Donald P. Gregg

Language: English

Pages: 346

ISBN: 0990447103

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Pot Shards is a memoir, based on the author's memorable experiences. Donald P. Gregg spent thirty-one years as an operations officer in CIA and ten years in the White House under presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush. Pot Shards is his memoir. It tells of a philosophy major who graduated from college in 1951 and immediately joined CIA when told, "You'll jump out of airplanes and save the world!" With raucous humor, he describes his parachute training and arctic survival course in Idaho. His book is a window into the Cold War-era CIA, both its failings (twenty years in a Chinese jail for a close friend) and unheralded successes, including Gregg's role in saving the life of Kim Dae-jung, a Korean political dissident who later, as president, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Gregg colorfully describes his tours in Japan, Burma, Vietnam, and South Korea. His four years dealing with the Vietnam War illustrate clearly the difficulties of speaking truth to power with sharp-edged encounters with Robert McNamara, Curtis LeMay, and various generals. Gregg worked effectively against torture when encountered in both Vietnam and Korea. In the White House, Gregg was impressed by Vice President Bush's value as "the rudder on Reagan's sailboat," unseen but imperative. He recounts his travels with Bush to sixty-five countries with both humor and discernment-- Thatcher at the top, Mugabe at the bottom. Gregg served both as CIA station chief in Seoul, 1973-75, and as U.S. ambassador to Korea, 1989-93. He later made more than fifty trips to Seoul as chairman of The Korea Society. Now, as chairman of the Pacific Century Institute, the former diplomat, once feared and disliked by North Korea, has visited that secretive nation six times, as recently as February 2014. Gregg always stresses dialogue over demonization in dealing with the North Koreans. "Don Gregg is that authentic and admirable thing: a great American. He spent most of his life serving his country: in the CIA, at the White House and as a US ambassador. He has stories to tell, many of them gripping, and they are beautifully and movingly recollected here in this memoir of a splendid life." -Christopher Buckley "A personal witness to decades of largely hidden intelligence and diplomatic history, Donald Gregg recounts his unlikely and amazing career as a CIA officer, national security advisor, and US diplomat. His adventures and insider knowledge of US relations with East Asian nations over many decades make for a lively narrative, entertaining for the general reader and useful for serious scholars alike. Through it all, Ambassador Gregg expresses a natural warmth and concern for humanity that makes his story a truly personal journey." -Nicholas Dujmovic, Ph.D., CIA Staff Historian, Center for the Study of Intelligence

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professional the Agency had become since the early 1950s. Today, CIA’s image is at best a very mixed bag, but I believe it is accomplishing far more, under difficult and dangerous circumstances, than it did at any time in the past. 8 Happy Years in Japan In late 1954, we learned that our next assignment was to be Japan. During our entire time in Japan I worked for CIA, which was an integral part of a massive American effort to help Japan rebuild after World War II and to become what it is

congressmen. Keep away from him, he’ll try to climb in your pocket.” Habib was right about Tongsun Park, on all counts. My second courtesy call was upon KCIA Director Lee, a man for whom I developed an instant aversion. Lee had a huge office on the top floor of a building right across from the American Embassy. A movie cameraman filmed my entrance, and I realized I had goofed sartorially by wearing a turtleneck sweater under my coat. Lee sat at a huge desk, with several flunkies in attendance,

foreign visitor, Chun had guaranteed Kim Dae-jung’s safety and release. The White House, for its part, had a low opinion of the draconian Chun. Had he not held Kim’s life in his hands, he would not have been invited to the White House. I was thus involved in an effort to downplay Chun’s visit in every way possible. Chun’s staff sought a state dinner and were given only a lunch. Chun’s time in Washington was limited, as were the number of high-ranking officials with whom he met officially.

had direct experience of war and wanted nothing more to do with it. In 1939, the first trans-Atlantic air mail service was inaugurated by Pan American Airways. Dad got a first-day cover for that flight and wrote me a letter dated May 17, 1939, that had flown back and forth across the Atlantic. In it he wrote: “Your generation will have to devise the ways whereby nations plan together in friendly, increasingly unselfish ways, how all the nations of the world may be dealt with as members of a

work out a common response to something I’d said. After we were seated in front of TV cameras and members of the local Korean press, I told them I appreciated their willingness to meet with me, and that I would try to answer any questions they had. Their first question was, “Who gave the order for the soldiers to shoot the Korean rioters in the streets of Kwangju?” I replied that I had no idea and that only Koreans could answer that question. Their spokesman fired back, “That’s a lie! We know

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