Donovan, William (Joseph)(1883–1959) soldier, public official; born in Buffalo, N.Y. A much-decorated World War I veteran, he was an assistant to the U.S. attorney general (1925–29) and served as an unofficial observer for the government in Italy, Spain, and the Balkans (1935–41). Assigned to head the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (1942–45), "Wild Bill" Donovan had responsibility for espionage, counterespionage, and clandestine military operations during World War II. He was ambassador to Thailand in 1953–54.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.