James H. Critchfield: His Life's Story 1917-2003
by Lois M. Critchfield

"His life spanned some of the greatest changes our nation and our world have ever seen."

This wide-ranging examination of James H. Critchfield has been created by his widow as a fair, thoughtful recognition of his personal and professional accomplishments and aspirations. Critchfield, a hardworking farm boy from North Dakota, decided after college to pursue a military career. He began in the cavalry when horses were still used for military purposes. Critchfield proved himself an intelligent problem solver and soon rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, for a time in charge of the Buffalo Soldiers, an all-black regiment. Deployed to Europe at the height of World War II, Critchfield and his men fought from trenches for weeks without rest. The young officer received Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and the Silver Star for his leadership under fire. Post-war, he worked in counterintelligence in Germany and elsewhere, garnering a twenty-three-year career with the CIA.

Lois M. Critchfield, who worked alongside her husband in counterintelligence, has gathered a rich selection of material about him—vibrant portraits of early adventures, personal challenges, and peaceful interludes in a life filled with international moves and intrigues. She has done an admirable job of seeing him with affection, and, as he often saw himself, with objectivity. His many achievements are a matter of record: military honors and a Distinguished Intelligence Medal from the CIA. She includes some of his private writings to family, and in a noteworthy appendix, his well-considered observations on such thorny subjects as “The World After September 11” and viewpoints regarding the Middle East with a bold 2001 recommendation for a Middle East Treaty Organization (METO), a brilliant conception that seems far beyond the thinking of his contemporaries. Filled with small bits of lore and broad overviews of American history from the early twentieth to the twenty-first century, this chronicle of a remarkable man provides a fitting, well-deserved legacy.

Return to USR Home