The Secret Histories Hidden Truths That Challenged the Past and Changed the World

John S. Friedman




Trade Paperback

560 Pages



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The Secret Histories is a groundbreaking collection of the documents that have clarified history and altered the way we view politics and culture. From Edwin Black's investigation into the strategic alliance between IBM and the Nazi regime to I. F. Stone's classic study of the hidden history of the Korean War, from the 1952 Reader's Digest expose of tobacco's link to cancer and heart disease to Seymour Hersh's report on the My Lai massacre (as well his exposé on the abuse in Abu Ghraib prison), this is the perfect anthology for those seeking to revisit—or discover for the first time—the stories that have shaped our understanding of the world.

Edited by noted journalist and filmmaker John S. Friedman, as well as featuring an illuminating preface by bestselling author James Carroll (An American Requiem and Constantine's Sword), The Secret Histories is an invaluable resource guide and a genuine tool for further change. It is a must-have book for anyone yearning to expand their understanding of the past and the present.


Praise for The Secret Histories

"A rich—and disheartening—collection of deception and exposure."—The Washington Post

"Reads like a hymnal to the power of the exposé. Friedman, a Nation contributor and documentary filmmaker, has combed through some of the larger events of the post-WWII era and culled 26 stories, books, and congressional reports that together tell an unacknowledged version of the past 65 years . . . It's the perfect inspiration for . . . healthy skepticism . . . "Inspire[s] a necessary distrust of the news media . . . If you come away from [The Secret Histories] questioning everything you know, that's part of the point—distrust flourishes when dark corners are illuminated."—The Village Voice

"There's probably a reason why the history education of most elementary school students ends around World War II. What comes after that war—which had easy-to-understand enemies and clear-cut wrongs and rights—is too messy to explain and often too new to bear the strong lens of historical reflection. Journalist and documentary filmmaker John S. Friedman underscores the messiness of the latter half of the 20th century in his anthology The Secret Histories. In this volume, he compiles documents that shed light on various historical events, from World War II to the present day. Friedman's mostly original source material includes transcripts from 'television documentaries, newspaper and magazine articles, selections from books, reports from Senate investigations, tape recordings, decoded cables and an article that first appeared on the Internet.' He has written short but authoritative introductions to each piece, attempting to give the reader the context for the events described. The Secret Histories is a treasure for the serious history buff, but there's plenty for the amateur historian or the concerned citizen—a reader Friedman takes special care to court since he sees darker currents running through these historical examples . . . Friedman has done a masterful job of collecting primary source material and making careful choices about what was included . . . After reading The Secret Histories, one hopes that Friedman's call for the uncovering of recent cover-ups will be heeded . . . Perhaps this volume will kick-start the process."—The Capital Times

"Chilling and immensely informative . . . The Secret Histories illuminates the darkest side of American politics . . . Masterfully compiled . . . Friedman's eye-opening anthology [is] a must-read in this bleak time."—V.B. Price, Albuquerque Tribune

"A concise anthology of documents that the government, or at least those in power, would have preferred to conceal from the public. Even for students who might read just a few of these documents, the book encourages what ought to be the first step in any activism: yearning to know . . . The book is a tool for students. All of the documents are made more clear by the historical context Friedman provides each of them."—Columbia Spectator

Table of Contents

Foreword by James Carroll
Introduction by John S. Friedman

Part I
World War Two: Code Breakers and Collaborators

F.W. Winterbotham's
The Ultra Secret

Edwin Black's
IBM and the Holocaust

Part II
The Korean War

I.F. Stone's
The Hidden History of the Korean War

Part III
Atomic Secrets


Eileen Welsome's
The Plutonium Experiment

Part IV
Cold War Secrets

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn's
The Gulag Archipelago

Edward R. Murrow's
"A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"

John Marks's
The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate"

Organized Crime, J. Edgar Hoover, and FBI Abuses


Anthony Summers's
Official and Confidential



Jon Wiener's
Gimme Some Truth

Hidden Sides of the Vietnam War

Morley Safer's
"Report on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident"

Seymour M. Hersh's
"The Massacre at My Lai"

Neil Sheehan's
"Vietnamese Archive" from "The Pentagon Papers"

Cover Intervention, Over Neglect

James Risen's
"Secrets of History: The C.I.A. in Iran"

John Dinges's
The Condor Years

Peter Kornbluh's
The Pinochet File

Philip Gourevitch's
"The Genocide Fax"

Health and the Environment

Roy Norr's
"Cancer by the Carton"

Greg Palast's
"A Well-Designed Disaster"

Abuses of Power


Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's

Greg Palast's
"Florida Ethnic Cleansing of the Voter Rolls"

Seymour M. Hersh's
"Torture at Abu Ghraib"


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  • John S. Friedman

  • John S. Friedman is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. He produced the Academy Award-winning documentary Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie and directed the documentary Stealing the Fire, a history of the WMD underground from the Holocaust to the present. He is a regular contributor to The Nation, among other publications. Friedman holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature.