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CIA Official John Waller; Was Historian and Author

Sunday, November 7, 2004; Page C08

John H. Waller, 81, a former high-ranking official in the CIA who also wrote a half-dozen books on espionage and other topics, died of complications from pneumonia Nov. 4 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.

Mr. Waller was a historian who wrote full time after retiring from the CIA as its inspector general in 1980.


John H. Waller wrote "Beyond the Khyber Pass: The Road to British Disaster in the First Afghan War." (File Photo)


Perhaps best known among his writings was "Beyond the Khyber Pass: The Road to British Disaster in the First Afghan War," published by Random House in 1990.

The book examines 19th century war and international intrigue in India and Afghanistan as Queen Victoria's Britain and czarist Russia struggled for strategic advantage in the region.

Mr. Waller, who spent time in Central Asia during his years as a CIA operative, detailed the 1840s siege of Kabul and the deaths of thousands of British soldiers.

Mr. Waller also wrote "The Devil's Doctor: Felix Kersten and the Secret Plot to Turn Himmler Against Hitler" (2002), "The Unseen War in Europe: Espionage and Conspiracy in the Second World War" (1996) and "Gordon of Khartoum: The Saga of a Victorian Hero" (1988).

Mr. Waller, who had lived in McLean since 1978, was born in Paw Paw, Mich., and raised in Detroit. He graduated from the University of Michigan and worked briefly in banking.

Unable to join the military during World War II because of an ear disorder, he got a job overseas as a diplomatic courier for the Foreign Service.

In 1943, he joined the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the CIA, and worked in counterespionage.

Later, with the CIA, he served in Iran, Sudan and India. He was deputy chief of the Africa division at CIA headquarters from 1964 to 1968 and chief of the Near East division from 1971 to 1975.

He wrapped up his government career after a four-year stint as CIA inspector general.

Among his professional honors were the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the National Civil Service Award.

He was chairman of the OSS Society and a member of the board and past president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He also was a member of the Cosmos Club, the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic and Counselor Officers Retired.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Barbara Hans Waller of McLean; three children, Gregory Waller of Charlottesville and Stephanie Robinson and Maria Waller, both of McLean; and two grandchildren.


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