Review: Intelligence Analysis – How to Think in Complex Environments

4 Star, Intelligence (Commercial), Intelligence (Government/Secret)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Wayne Michael Hall and Gary Citrenbaum

4.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Brilliant, Mind-Glazing, 440 Pages of Straight Text, December 2, 2013

You could read this book a hundred times and learn something new every time. I have taken off one star because the book is too dense by far, with not a single graphic, table, or highlighted anything. 441 pages, pure text. What needs to happen, plain and simple, is a complete do-over — this book needs to go to 500 pages at least, with 60 added graphics, tables, or lists.

What I love most about this book, and its companion, Intelligence Collection: How to Plan and Execute Intelligence Collection in Complex Environments (Praeger Security International) are the following two attributes:

01: Among all the books I have read on intelligence, these two books are among the most detailed, structured, critical, and relevant I have read. Both books share the same flaws, flaws that superior editing and a graphics team could easily fix for a second edition, which I would strongly recommend. BEFORE the books go to paperback, they need to be redone. As they are now, the books are too overwhelming for 98% of those who might otherwise benefit.

02 Buried within each chapter are absolute gems of blood-letting romping stomping criticism of the US Intelligence Community at every level (tactical to strategic) across every mission area. This book is startling in its depth and breadth of understanding. The authors are articulate but dense, and I dearly hope they will redo both books to make them more accessible to the vastly larger audience that needs this level of detail, but served up as a quiver of “open” chapters instead of one really dense baseball bat that clubs you to death with compounded words.

Although I am troubled by the book’s lack of a holistic analytic model, its lack of any reference to true cost economics, and its general avoidance of any discussion of the complexity of the customers for intelligence in the aggregate (the focuses on individual commanders and their needs, not on Whole of Government or Multinational or Eight Tribe collection and analytics), I whole-heartedly recommend this book for every library on intelligence (decision-support), and I sincerely hope the authors will re-do both books to open them up — more graphics, more white space.

Below, for this particular book, I list the chapter headings that are a Master’s course in advanced analytics:

05 Decomposition
06 Critical Thinking
07 Link Analysis
08 Pattern Analysis
09 Trend Analysis
10 Anticipatory Analysis
11 Technical Analysis
12 Tendency Analysis
13 Anomaly Analysis
14 Cultural Analysis
15 Semiotics Analysis
16 Aggregation Analysis
17 Recomposition
18 Synthesis
19 Technology for Advanced Analytics

This last chapter (19) is especially absorbing for me since I have been one of the agitators for technology properly applied since 1986 — look up online Computer Aided Tools for the Analysis of Science & Technology (CATALYST) to see what Gordon Oehler, Diane Webb, and Dennis McCormick put together in 1987-1988, and published in 1989. We do not have that today (the 18 functionalities) because the US secret world is DISHONEST and INCOHERENT, totally out of touch with reality, with state of the art (see CrisisMappers for one example), and so on.

The book ends with a riveting chapter on A System of Thought.

I regret I cannot keep this book, it is in the library of the J-2 for a special operations unit in Afghanistan, and deservedly so. Below are nine other books I recommend in the analytic domain, but first, do search online for <Jack Davis Analytic Tradecraft > to access pure gold.

Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations
Assessing the Tradecraft of Intelligence Analysis (Technical Report (RAND))
Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century
Intelligence Analysis: Behavioral and Social Scientific Foundations
Lost Promise
On the Psychology of Military Incompetence
Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
Lifting the Fog of War

There are others, but Amazon’s limit is 10 links per review. For my long list of intelligence related reviews, search for Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most), with all reviews as published at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog leading back to their respective Amazon pages.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
Kabul, Afghanistan
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability (2012)

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