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Letter: Donovan biographies paint another picture

Donovan biographies paint another picture

Charles Pinck, in his May 3 Another Voice, is disturbed that “Wild Bill” Donovan, founder of the Office of Strategic Services, is being “besmirched” of late by both left- and right-wing commentators. Pinck believes that Gen. William Donovan, long considered a hero for his courage under fire during World War I and his service during the Cold War, is being disparaged for his reluctance to kowtow to political pressure groups. Pinck quotes Corey Ford, a Donovan biographer, who claims that Donovan’s “coolness under fire – not only in war but in government service – was the result of stern self-discipline.”

Ford’s biography was published in 1970. Since then, four additional biographies have emerged, most recently Douglas Waller’s in 2011. The later biographers had more and better resources to draw from and were able to reach different conclusions. Waller’s assessment, for example, reveals “an undisciplined administrator running a thinly spread operation and eager to grab power and headlines.”

It was probably unnecessary for Pinck to protect Donovan’s reputation here in his native city. Most Buffalonians tend to glorify “Wild Bill.”

Jackie Trace

Buffalo