3.0 out of 5 stars A poor thesis, rotten sources, with no quality control in the literature review, January 27, 2015
This is a hugely disappointing book. It reads like a graduate thesis badly overseen (with zero in the way of serious literature search). While the author has some experience in the foreign service (perhaps in the clandestine service) and as an action officer and minor manager in the Pentagon bureaucracy responsible for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, he knows little about intelligence in all its complexity, less about the information revolution, and nothing at all across 80% of the relevant literatures he fails to discover or cite.
The laudatory remarks by academics are part of the self-licking academic ice cream cone — take them with a liberal dose of salt. The author, lacking broad or deep experience in the craft of intelligence, is too quick to buy into the facile pronouncements of others, and renders potifical inanities such as “intelligence or information, no matter where or when garnered, is not decisive in war.” It reminds me of my review of a book the author clearly loves and cites, by John Keegan, Intelligence in War: The value–and limitations–of what the military can learn about the enemy — better scholarship there, but as with this author, missed the point completely.
The reader desiring to study the craft of intelligence will learn vastly more from others without buying their books — simply see my summary reviews of over 300 proper books on secret intelligence at the easily found list, Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Government Secret Intelligence [never mind my own books, articles, and briefings easily found at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog], or the pioneering work of 800 international practitioners, the best of the best being itemized and their work linked at OSINT Literature Review, Name Association, Lessons Learned, also easily found free online.
I went through this book twice to ensure I was not being to harsh — the title and sub-title offered so much promise. The author is over-reliant on Sherman Kent’s Strategic Intelligence for American National Security and a handful of books by a mix of sychophants (the academics) and practitoners (generally the ones that failed). The index, while mediocre, confirms that this is not a study that should be used in any classroom, and certainly nowhere near the towering work of Michael Herman, Intelligence Power in Peace and War by Herman, Michael published by Cambridge University Press.
When discussing secrecy, the author fails to mention Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan or any of the other authors of important books on secrecy, two examples below:
When discussing open sources, the author has no clue. At a minimum he should at least have cited these two works:
This book has its little gems — perhaps twenty paragraphs in all — but it is not a book that needs to be read by anyone actually interested in a topic I addressed, with a foreword from Senator David Boren (D-OK), in 2000, Spies and Secrecy in an Open World. It is a book that tries very hard — with limited success — to justify what we do and pretend that what we do in the way of secret intelligence of, by, and for the government and its financial masters is useful. It is not. It is nothing more than a pork pie, as William Binney has said, that keeps the problems alive and the money moving. It provides, and as General Tony Zinni has said, “at best” 4% of what a serious commander needs.
The author — and those who praise this work — are not to be trusted. These people are completely out of touch with the reality of — to take just one example — CrisisMappers, and they have absolutely no idea what it means to integrate holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering. They are failures in serving the public interest precisely because no one has ever held them accountable for getting a grip on the truth.
Annoying. I am sending the book to Retired Reader for a second opinion.