servation made by W. SomersetnMaugham, whose truth every real writernknows:n”Sometimes people carry to such perfectionnthe mask they have assumednthat in due course they actually becomenthe person they seem. But in hisnbook or his picture the real man deliversnhimself defenseless. To thenacute observer no one can producenthe most casual work without disclosingnthe innermost secrets of his soul.”nMr. Harris’s novelistic venture seemsnto embody this truism, revealing hisnhatred of this land, its people and theirninstitutions—and his own stature beyondnthe ability of anyone else to describe.n•nAs Secret as Christmas DaynPeter Wyden: Bay of Pigs; Simon &nSchuster; New York.nby Alan J. LevinenL he Bay of Pigs was perhaps thenmost humiliating Cold War reversensuffered by the United States until thenIndochina War, Like most national defeats,nit became a rich source of doublentalk and scapegoating. Despite a fewnquestionable conclusions, Peter Wydennhas done a lot to clear the air and shownwhat happened, and why the attempt tonfree Cuba failed. Unlike most writersnon this subject, Wyden has not madeneither the CIA or President Kennedyna scapegoat, though neither the CIA nornKennedy partisans will find much tonrejoice about. There is plenty of blamenfor everyone in the American government,nhe claims, and only the Cubannexiles emerge with their honornunblemished.nThe CIA was largely uncontrolled,nnot in the sense that it disobeyed highernauthority, but because nobody botherednto supervise it. Nor did the CIA makenmore than grudging attempts at coordinationnwith other departments of thengovernment. Even the CIA’s activitiesnwere to a remarkable extent the effortsnof one man, Richard Bissell, “DeputynDirector for Plans,” in plain English—nthe head of covert operations. To thenMr. Levine is a historian who lives innNew York.n18 inChronicles of Culturenextent that there was an overall plan fornthe Cuban invasion, it existed in Bissell’snhead. He alone made the crucialndecision to change the anti-Castro campaignnfrom a guerrilla effort to an invasion.nThe Americans held tenaciously tontwo propositions. First, that the Cubannpeople would rise in the event of annexile invasion. Second, that secrecynabout the United States’ involvementncould be maintained not only before theninvasion, but after it. This was a trulynbizarre idea, since thousands of peoplenwere continuously involved in the invasionnpreparations, which took placenmostly outside the United States. The invasionnforce was to be escorted by Americannships (some genius decided thatnpainting out the ships’ numbers wouldndisguise them), while actually a U.S.nNavy vessel took the exiles’ landing craftninto battle. The fact that the UnitednStates was training a Cuban exile forcenbecame public in late I960; as a participantncommented, it was “as secret asnChristmas Day.” Yet, right through theninvasion, the CIA and the White Housencontinued to imagine that permanentnsecrecy about our role could be maintained,nthough the Cuban exile leader,nMiro Cordona, and U.S. InformationnAgency Director, Edward R. Murrow,nwarned that this was impossible. The administration’snattitude can be characterizednonly as willful blindness. In thisnatmosphere, it is understandable that thenCIA seriously considered slipping Castronnna box of cigars contaminated with anchemical that would make him appearn”disoriented” on television. Apparently,nit did not occur to, anyone that thenvictims of one of his marathon speechesnmight find it hard to tell the differencenbetween Castro sober and Castro disoriented.nThe CIA’s conviction that the Cubannpeople would rise against Castro wasnadmittedly prompted by the understandablyneager exiles. But it was contradictednby some of the agency’s own estimates,nand information supplied by our allies.nYet neither the Pentagon nor the WhitenHouse seems to have bothered to seeknan informed, independent appraisal ofnthis crucial premise. Both shared thenbelief in an uprising. (To be fair, thenPentagon disclaimed knowledge of thenpolitical factors involved, and was ratherndubious about the operation.) Whethernthe CIA was wrong about the attitudesnof the Cubans is not certain even yet—nif only because it completely bunglednthe liaison with its own men and thenunderground in Cuba, allowing Castronto round up supporters and smash hisnopposition. But to depend on a verynsmall invasion force being supplementednby an uprising against a fairly wellarmednregime seems rather reckless.nAs Wyden shows, even the militarynpreparations were sadly fumbled. Thenplan took final form only a month or sonbefore the invasion; the Bay of Pigsnwas selected as the target quite late.nAll sorts of mistakes were made; thenCIA did not even bother to try out somenequipment beforehand. It reluctantlynagreed to mount antiaircraft guns on thenships and landing craft only at the insistencenof the Cuban exiles. When thenPentagon sent a Marine logistics specialistnto inspect the CIA’s preparations,nthe agency ignored his advice. Some ofnthe officers the CIA itself picked tontrain the Cubans treated the exiles asn”greasers.” Nor did the CIA make allnthe relevant information available tonPresident Kennedy. He was led to supposenthat if the invasion failed the menncould join up with anti-Castro guer-n