The CIA has been accused of a massive intelligence failure in the run-up to the 9/11 attacks -- the result, it is said, of a moralistic and bureaucratic approach to information-gathering. But the CIA's spies had few qualms when it came to cultivating terrorist organisations and interfering in the internal politics of Cold War Italy. Puppetmasters reveals how US intelligence services exploited the P2 masonic lodge to prop up friendly Christian Democrat-dominated governments and counter the growing political influence of the Italian Communist Party. It was a ruthless strategy involving coup plots, right wing terrorist bombings and the manipulation of the Red Brigades. And it gave Italy one of the bloodiest and most protracted periods of terrorist violence ever seen in a modern, industrialised society.