Behavior modification experiments that were secretly conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) through the MKULTRA program in the 1950s and 1960s continue to reverberate half a century later. The agency's amoral, instrumental approach to human subject research often involved the exposure of unwitting persons to mind-altering drugs such as LSD and to conditions of extreme stress, leading to at least two documented fatalities.

The public disclosure of the MKULTRA program in the 1970s during Senate investigations of CIA activities and the program's further exploration in John Marks's 1978 book The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”: The CIA and Mind Control had both political and cultural ramifications. The recklessness of the program helped to motivate the creation of new intelligence oversight structures. It also inspired enduring public fascination with and revulsion toward the CIA.

In this new book, the author and journalist Stephen Kinzer seeks to refresh the tale...

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