In June 1949, the US and British governments secretly agreed to mount a joint covert action operation to overthrow the communist government in Albania. Codenamed ‘BGFiend’ by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and ‘Valuable’ by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6), the top-secret plan would use exiled dissidents to conduct subversive intelligence, paramilitary and propaganda operations to foment an uprising against Albania’s authoritarian ruler Enver Hoxha.
This book explains the west’s first secret attempt to subvert a communist state behind the Iron Curtain. The Albanian operation is a vital but misunderstood part of Cold War history – the test case of anti-communist covert action where the west served its apprenticeship before rolling out this capability on a global scale. Bitter Fruit argues that BGFiend/Valuable has been fundamentally misunderstood in previous accounts. Although it was conceived as the opening act of a much bigger ‘rollback’ campaign to eradicate communist power, six months into the operation Washington and London scaled back these vaunting ambitions due to shifting geopolitical factors. Nevertheless, Albania changed the Cold War forever because the CIA drew upon the same tactics in later operations in Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua and elsewhere. This is a book, therefore, without which no reader can grasp the bigger history of the Cold War. As such, it will appeal to general readers and to students and scholars of the Cold War, intelligence history and international politics.
Dr. Stephen Long is Assistant Professor in International Relations at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). He holds a PhD in US Foreign Policy and Intelligence from the University of Birmingham. Long is an expert in western covert action in the early Cold War, having researched and published extensively on this subject over the past two decades. His first book, The CIA and the Soviet Bloc: Political Warfare, the Origins of the CIA and Countering Communism in Europe, was published by IB Tauris in 2014 (reprinted with Bloomsbury in 2020). He has published in leading academic jou...
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