Award-winning foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer, whose investigations and penetrating analyses have shed harrowing light on innumerable clandestine American adventures here and abroad, will return to the South End library on Tuesday, October 22, with his latest tome, Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control. A former New York Times bureau chief in Nicaragua, Berlin and Istanbul, and current world affairs columnist at the Boston Globe, Kinzer tells the hair-raising tale of chemist Sidney Gottlieb, who was in charge of the CIA’s MK-ULTRA mind control project.
Strangely, Gottlieb, who oversaw experiments at secret prisons in the 1950s and ‘60s, producing pills, powders, and potions that could kill or maim without leaving a trace, considered himself deeply spiritual. He lived in a remote cabin without running water, meditated, and rose before dawn to milk his goats. Since his death in 1999 it has become possible to piece together his astonishing career of 22 years in the CIA, and Kinzer, the author of a dozen books including The True Flag, The Brothers, Overthrow, and All the Shah’s Men, was able to draw on newly available documents and additional original interviews to write Gottlieb’s biography (although he prefers to say he was on an LSD trip and saw Sidney Gottlieb there).
“It’s all in the bone-crunching detail, and Kinzer, a master of American perfidy, has done it again,” says Seymour Hersh, investigative journalist and national security contributor to The New Yorker. Kinzer, a South End resident, is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.