Kessler ( Escape from the CIA ), who is the first journalist to be accorded the full cooperation of the CIA, here reveals more about the agency's structure, policies and key personnel than any previous writer has. He defines the missions of the agency's five components--the director and the directorates of operations, science and technology, intelligence, and administration. Kessler explores such diverse subjects as the agency's employment policies (the CIA, he maintains, prefers aggressive, manipulative recruits willing to lie and to break the laws of foreign countries), the director's daily presidential briefing, the CIA's counter-narcotics efforts, the physical plant itself ("The CIA compound is indeed a spooky place") and the agency's struggle to create a viable public-relations policy. As to the agency's mandate, given the diminution of the Soviet threat, Kessler reports that the CIA is intensifying its effort to track nuclear proliferation, international drug trafficking and terrorism. A largely objective, evenhanded, highly informative survey.