Review: Challenges in Intelligence Analysis

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Timothy Walton

5.0 out of 5 stars An instant classic, could inspire a series, December 26, 2012

I like this book very much, to the point of tempering my recurring criticisms (the author touches ever so lightly on reality that analysts are toads without decent all-source collection, 21st century processing power, and ethical interested customers for their hard-won insights).

Use Inside the Book if you have any doubts. I am particularly inspired by the pricing of this book, one of the most affordable volumes in the discipline, and one that every professional should own and every student should be required to reflect upon.

At my level of appreciation the footnotes and the bibliography are often the most interesting, and in the case of this book, I looked carefully at the sources recommended, and below list ten books that complement this one, that are NOT listed by the author.

Strategic Intelligence and Statecraft: Selected Essays (Brassey’s Intelligence & National Security Library)
Strategic Intelligence for the 21st Century: The Mosaic Method
Lost Promise
Analytic Professionalism and the Policymaking Process
Seeing the Invisible: National Security Intelligence in an Uncertain Age
A Tradecraft Primer: Structured Analytic Techniques for Improving Intelligence Analysis
None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam
Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
No More Secrets: Open Source Information and the Reshaping of U.S. Intelligence (Praeger Security International)
Open Source Intelligence in a Networked World (Continuum Intelligence Studies)

The work of Jack Davis, de facto dean of US intelligence analysis, is not found at Amazon, but any Internet search for “analytic tradecraft” and his name will quickly yield a treasure trove. Any student paper on intelligence analysis that fails to cite Davis loses one grade immediately.

My own thinking on the near future of intelligence can easily be found by using TINY URL forward slash Steele21 and I will observe that I invariably help any student at any level that approaches me via email.

One of the other reviewers makes a very good point on the importance of multi-disciplinary cross-fertilization, and I want to build on that comment. There are eight intelligence tribes, not one. Where most academics and practitioners go wrong is in thinking that intelligence is about secrets for the president and inherently a government function. At most they will recognize commercial intelligence, something Jan Herring in the USA and Stevan Dedijer in Sweden pioneered. In fact all eight tribes have lost their holistic coherence (integrity), and all eight need to recover that integrity, but they must also grow back together — academic, civil society including labor and religion, commerce, government at all levels, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit. Open sources, open software and hardware and data, and cross-fertilized analytic tradecraft are where we will make some magic happen in the next decade, in my view.

I would like very much to see the author do a second book, one that examines ten intelligence challenges for each of the eight tribes of intelligence, with a particular focus on evaluating the process, the sources, the purpose, and the utility, spanning a spectrum from abject failure to outrageous success. I am posting my new evaluation slide above.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David Steele
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

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