The “Adventurous Life” of a CIA Agent


Pot Shards: Fragments of a Life Lived in CIA, the White House, and the Two Koreas’, by Donald P. Gregg, is a window into the Cold War–era CIA, both its failings (twenty years in a Chinese jail for a close friend) and unheralded successes, including Gregg’s role in saving the life of Kim Dae-jung, a Korean political dissident who later, as president, won the Nobel Peace  Prize.

Gregg colorfully describes his tours in Japan, Burma, Vietnam, and South Korea. His four years dealing with the Vietnam War illustrate clearly the difficulties of speaking truth to power with sharp-edged encounters with Robert McNamara, Curtis LeMay, and various generals. Gregg worked effectively against torture when encountered in both Vietnam and  Korea.

In the Reagan White House, Gregg was impressed by Vice President Bush’s value as “the rudder on Reagan’s sailboat,” unseen but imperative. He recounts his travels with Bush to sixty-five countries with both humor and discernment–– Thatcher at the top, Mugabe at the  bottom.

Gregg served both as CIA station chief in Seoul, 1973–75, and as U.S. ambassador to Korea, 1989–93. He later made more than fifty trips to Seoul as chairman of The Korea Society. Now, as chairman of the Pacific Century Institute, the former diplomat, once feared and disliked by North Korea, has visited that secretive nation six times, as recently as February 2014. Gregg always stresses dialogue over demonization in dealing with the North  Koreans.


“Don Gregg is that authentic and admirable thing: a great American. He spent most of his life serving his country: in the CIA, at the White House and as a US ambassador. He has stories to tell, many of them gripping, and they are beautifully and movingly recollected here in this memoir of a splendid  life.”
—Christopher  Buckley

“Donald Gregg’s career would make a great spy novel. This autobiography makes an even better book. No American knows more about North Korea. Few have seen the mechanics of the U.S. intelligence community with greater  clarity.”
—Tim Weiner, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter and author of ‘Legacy of Ashes: The History of the  CIA’

“A personal witness to decades of largely hidden intelligence and diplomatic history, Donald Gregg recounts his unlikely and amazing career as a CIA officer, national security advisor, and US diplomat. His adventures and insider knowledge of U.S. relations with East Asian nations over many decades make for a lively narrative, entertaining for the general reader and useful for serious scholars alike. Through it all, Ambassador Gregg expresses a natural warmth and concern for humanity that makes his story a truly personal  journey.”
—Nicholas Dujmovic, Ph.D., CIA Staff Historian, Center for the Study of  Intelligence

‘Pot Shards: Fragments of a Life Lived in CIA, the White House, and the Two Koreas’ was published by New Academia Publishing/ VELLUM Books and was converted to eBook format by

About the  Author
Donald P. Gregg has been an intelligence officer in peace and war, national security advisor to Vice President Bush, ambassador to Korea, graduate-level teacher at Georgetown University, and president and CEO of a successful nonprofit organization, The Korea society in New York. Over the years he has written articles for ‘TIME’ and ‘Newsweek’ and has produced numerous op-eds in the ‘New York Times’, the ‘Washington Post’, and the ‘Los Angeles Times’. He lives in Armonk, NY, with his  wife.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.