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Register of the Wilbur Eveland papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Alternative Forms of Material Available
  • Related Materials
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: Wilbur Eveland papers
    Date (inclusive): 1941-1983
    Collection Number: 80118
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 14 manuscript boxes (5.6 linear feet)
    Abstract: The papers contain drafts and galleys of the book by Wilbur C. Eveland, Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East (New York, 1980) relating to the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in American diplomacy in the Middle East, and photocopies of personnel records and correspondence with Central Intelligence Agency officials and others relating to publication of the book. Digital copies of select records also available at https://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: Eveland, Wilbur


    Collection is open for research. Digital copies of select records also available at https://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items, computer media, and digital files. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos, films, or digital files during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Wilbur Eveland papers, 1941-1983, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1980.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Alternative Forms of Material Available

    PDF files of declassified documents available through reading room workstations. Digital copies of select records also available at https://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 

    Related Materials

    Charles Richard Crane memoirs, Hoover Institution Archives
    George Lenczowski papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Philip C. McConnell papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Harley C. Stevens papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Alfred M. Lilienthal papers, Hoover Institution Archives

    Biographical Note

    Wilbur Crane Eveland was an intelligence agent known for his work with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Middle East. He was born on July 1, 1918, in Spokane, Washington. At 17, Eveland lied about his age so that he could join a Marine Corps Reserve battalion at Puget Sound Navy Yard but failed the West Point written test when he took the examination the next year. Eveland then took classes at the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University. In 1940, Eveland joined the United States Army, where in January 1941 he was recruited as an agent for the Corps of Intelligent Police, later known as the Counter Intelligence Corps. He was put in charge of the Counter Intelligence Corps field offices in Panama and held several other intelligence positions until 1948, when he decided to become a military attaché.
    As preparation for work as a military attaché, Eveland took a one-year course in Arabic at the Army Language School, after which he was stationed at the American embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, from 1950 to 1952. Upon returning to the United States, Eveland was appointed as the Near East intelligence specialist for the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff of the Department of the Army.
    Throughout the 1950s, Eveland worked for several United States government agencies. From 1953 to 1954, he organized and headed the Near East and African Branch of the Office of Foreign Military Affairs within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. While in this position, Eveland was one of two officers to meet with Gamal Abdel Nasser to discuss aid to Egypt. In 1955, Eveland became a consultant to the Operations Coordinating Board, an entity responsible for monitoring implementation of National Security Council policies, reviewing proposals for clandestine political actions abroad, and reviewing covert CIA expenditures ( Ropes of Sand, p. 110).
    Although not technically a CIA agent at this point in his career, Eveland was sent on a mission to Syria for the agency in 1955, where he was tasked with working with conservative groups in the country. Upon returning from this assignment, Eveland was recruited into the CIA, where he worked closely with Allen Dulles. From 1955 to 1959, Eveland was assigned to the American embassies in Damascus, Syria, and Beirut, Lebanon, as a CIA agent using Department of State cover. During this time, Eveland completed several missions in Syria, some involving coup attempts, including a mission to deliver half a million pounds to Syrian politician Mikhail Ilyan that Eveland completed shortly before the beginning of the Suez Crisis. Eveland participated in joint United States and United Kingdom planning sessions and also served as the contact person for Camille Chamoun, President of Lebanon.
    From 1959 to 1961, Eveland was on CIA assignment to Rome, Italy, under cover as a Vinnell Corporation engineering company executive in charge of petroleum related construction, maintenance, and training projects in the Middle East and Africa. In 1962, he resigned from the CIA to become the vice president of Vinnell, although he was retained as an unpaid consultant to the CIA to maintain his security clearance. In the 1970s, Eveland worked as a consultant for various companies in the petroleum industry.
    Eveland decided to write a book documenting American policy in the Middle East while watching the port of Beirut burn at the start of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. The contract for Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East was signed in 1977. Publication was delayed when the CIA requested a prepublication review of the work, but when the agency later chose not to examine the book, Eveland published the work in 1980. Eveland died in 1990.
    Eveland, Wilbur Crane. Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1980.
    Graham, Robert. "The Middle Eastern Muddle." Review of Ropes of Sand. New York Review of Books. 23 October 1980. Accessed through http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1980/oct/23/the-middle-eastern-muddle/

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Wilbur Eveland papers contain material related to his book Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East, an autobiographical work that discusses the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in American diplomacy in the Middle East. Published in 1980, the book describes Eveland's intelligence missions to countries such as Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq, and his interactions with Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles. Included are descriptions of a meeting with Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954, various missions in Syria, the Suez Crisis, the Eisenhower Doctrine, and other events of significance in the Middle East. Because Eveland served as a consultant within the petroleum industry after resigning from the CIA in 1962, the book also describes the petroleum industry's role in diplomacy and policy in the Middle East.
    The Ropes of Sand file includes drafts, research materials, and other documents related to the book. Many of the typescripts and galleys include annotations by Eveland and others. The curriculum vitae of Eveland can be found in box 8, folder 2. This file also includes Freedom of Information Act requests from Eveland and the resulting documents from various government agencies. Reviews of Ropes of Sand can be found in the materials for the dust jacket and also within the Increments.
    The papers include Declassified U.S. government records that relate to the Middle East, the Baghdad Pact, and the Syro-Egyptian Union. Some of these documents have been stored as PDF files, which can be accessed through the reading room workstations.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Secret service--United States.
    United States. Central Intelligence Agency.
    Middle East--Foreign relations--United States.
    United States--Foreign relations--Middle East.