Review: Intelligence Power in Peace and War

5 Star, Diplomacy, Information Society, Intelligence (Government/Secret), War & Face of Battle

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5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Graduate/Policy Text on Intelligence,

January 10, 2001
Michael Herman
This is the textbook for the best and the brightest of both the academic world and the policy world. It is not an easy read, between the British language form and the deep thinking, but it is, as Christopher Andrew says, “the best overview” and “surely destined to become a standard work”. I especially liked its attention to components and boundaries, effects, accuracy, and evaluation. Perhaps most usefully within the book is the distinction between long-term intelligence endeavors that rely primarily on open sources and serve to improve state understanding and state behavior, and short-term espionage that tends to be intrusive and heighten the target state’s feelings of vulnerability and hostility. No intelligence library is complete without this book–it provides a rock-solid foundation for serious thinking about the intelligence in the 21st Century.
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Review: Soldier Spies–Israeli Military Intelligence

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Really Serious, Really Current, Combat Military Intelligence,

January 10, 2001
Samuel M. Katz
Use the out-of-print service, this book is a gem. This is a great book about the minutia and the value of a well-rounded military intelligence capability–it is relevant to U.S. and other operations going on right now. I was especially impressed with four aspects: the emphasis on prisoner interrogation; the development of easy to install tactical signals collection devices that could be carried in and installed by deep reconnaissance units; the over-all commitment to long-range patrolling; and the clearly authorized commitment to “behind the lines” covert violence (assassination), using all the tools of intelligence to identify and then kill very specific individuals such as the two Egyptian Colonels believed to be guiding the Palestinian terrorist actions against Israel. These are all areas where the U.S. military is weak (and in one case clearly forbidden to consider action), and I consider this book a helpful manual for military officers who wish to take a more active role in preparing defense intelligence for the future–we cannot do military intelligence the way the Israeli’s do it, if we persist in thinking that desk-bound beltway analysts and overhead satellite collection are all that we need.
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Review: For the President’s Eyes Only–Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush

5 Star, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Intelligence (Government/Secret)

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5.0 out of 5 stars For Presidents, Cabinet Members, Commanders, & Senior Staff,

January 10, 2001
Christopher Andrew
“Over the past two centuries only four American presidents-Washington, Eisenhower, Kennedy (briefly), and Bush-have shown a real flair for intelligence.” This 660-page book documents this assessment, and ends with the conclusion “The presidents in the twenty-first century, like their Cold War predecessors, will continue to find an enormously expensive global intelligence system both fallible and indispensable.” His general findings in the conclusion are instructive: presidents have tended to have exaggerated expectations of intelligence, and have frequently overestimated the secret power that covert action might put at their command. For all that failed, both in intelligence not getting it right and presidents not listening when it did, intelligence undeniably helped stabilize the Cold War and avoid many confrontations. This book is extremely relevant to the emerging discussion, in 2001, about the need to depoliticize the position of the Director of Central Intelligence, and perhaps to consider a new National Security Act of 2001.
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Review: Tools for Thought–The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technolog

5 Star, Consciousness & Social IQ, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Intelligence (Commercial), Intelligence (Public)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Rheingold 10, Gates 0,

December 29, 2000
Howard Rheingold

Howard Rheingold, former Editor of the Whole Earth Review and one of the pure-gold original thinkers in the Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly circle, lays down a serious challange to both decisionmakers and software producers that has yet to be fully understood. Originally published in 1985, this book was a “must read” at the highest levels of advanced information processing circles then, but sadly its brilliant and coherent message has yet to take hold–largely because bureaucratic budgets and office politics are major obstacles to implementing new models where the focus is on empowering the employee rather than crunching financial numbers.

This book is a foundation reading for understanding why the software Bill Gates produces (and the Application Program Interfaces he persists in concealing) will never achieve the objectives that Howard and others believe are within our grasp–a desktop toolkit that not only produces multi-media documents without crashing ten times a day, but one that includes modeling & simulation, structured argument analysis, interactive search and retrieval of the deep web as well as commercial online systems, and geospatially-based heterogeneous data set visualization–and more–the desktop toolkit that emerges logically from Howard’s vision must include easy clustering and linking of related data across sets, statistical analysis to reveal anomalies and identify trends in data across time, space, and topic, and a range of data conversion, machine language translation, analog video management, and automated data extraction from text and images. How hard can this be? VERY HARD. Why? Because no one is willing to create a railway guage standard in cyberspace that legally mandates the transparency and stability of Application Program Interfaces (API). Rheingold gets it, Gates does not. What a waste!

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Review: The Virtual Community–Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier

5 Star, Civil Society, Culture, Research, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Prophet of Electronic Power to the People,

December 29, 2000
Howard Rheingold
Everyone seems to miss what I think is the most important the point of Howard’s book. First published in 1993 and now in the expanded edition, the bottom line on this book is that the Internet has finally made it possible for individuals to own the fruits of their own labor–the power has shifted from the industrial age aggregators of labor, capital, and hard resources to the individual knowledge workers. The virtual community is the social manifestation of this new access to one another, but the real revolution is manifested in the freedom that cyberspace makes possible–as John Perry Barlow has said, the Internet interprets censorship (including corporate attempts to “own” employee knowledge) as an outage, and *routes around it*. Not only are communities possible, but so also are short-term aggregations of interest, remote bartering, on the fly hiring of world-class experts at a fraction of their “physical presence price”. If Howard’s first big book, Tools for Thought, was the window on what is possible at the desktop, this book is the window on what is possible in cyberspace, transcending physical, legal, cultural, and financial barriers. This is not quite the watershed that The Communist Manifesto was, but in many ways this book foreshadowed all of the netgain, infinite wealth, and other electronic frontier books coming out of the fevered brains around Boston–a guy in Mill Valley wearing hand-painted cowboy boots was there long before those carpetbaggers (smile).
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Review: Virtual Reality–The Revolutionary Technology of Computer-Generated Artificial Worlds – and How It Promises to Transform Society

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Education (General), Future, Information Society, Information Technology

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5.0 out of 5 stars Sacred and Scary Reflections on Neo-Biologicial Civilization,

December 29, 2000
Howard Rheingold
First published in 1991, this is a gem that should be one of the first readings of anyone contemplated the sacred and the scary aspects of how humans, machines, and software are being changed by emerging information technologies. While there is a lot of focus on “cool tools” and all the paraphenalia of “virtual reality” qua artificial sensation and perception, the rock bottom foundation of this book can be found in Howard reflections on what it all means for the transformation of humans, business, and society in general.
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Review: Bombs, Bugs, Drugs, and Thugs–Intelligence and America’s Quest for Security

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Crime (Organized, Transnational), Intelligence (Government/Secret)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Rare and Deep Insights into Intelligence Grid-Lock,

December 19, 2000
Loch Johnson

The opening quotation from Harry Howe Ransom says it all-“Certainly nothing is more rational and logical than the idea that national security policies be based upon the fullest and most accurate information available; but the cold war spawned an intelligence Frankenstein monster that now needs to be dissected, remodeled, rationalized and made fully accountable to responsible representatives of the people.”

Professor Johnson is one of only two people(the other being Britt Snider) to have served on both the Church Commission in the 1970’s and the Aspin-Brown Commission in the 1990’s, and is in my view one of the most competent observer and commentator on the so-called U.S. Intelligence Community. The book is a tour d’horizon on both the deficiencies of today’s highly fragmented and bureaucratized archipelago of independent fiefdoms, as well as the “new intelligence agenda” that places public health and the environment near the top of the list of topics to be covered by spies and satellites.

Highlights of this excellent work, a new standard in terms of currency and breadth, include his informed judgment that most of what is in the “base” budget of the community should be resurrected for reexamination, and that at least 20% of the budget (roughly $6 billion per year) could be done away with-and one speculates that this would be good news to an Administration actively seeking trade-offs permitting its promised tax cut program. His overviews of the various cultures within the Central Intelligence Agency, of the myths of intelligence, and of the possibilities for burden sharing all merit close review.

He does, however, go a bridge too far while simultaneously rendering a great service to the incoming Administration. He properly identifies the dramatic shortfalls in the open source information gathering and processing capabilities of the various Departments of the Federal government-notably the Department of State as well as the Department of Commerce and the various agencies associated with public health-but then he goes on to suggest that these very incapacities should give rise to an extension of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s mission and mandate-that it is the U.S. Intelligence Community, including clandestine case officers in the field and even FBI special agents, who should be tasked with collecting open sources of information and with reporting on everything from disease to pollution. This will never work, but it does highlight the fact that all is not well with *both* the U.S. Intelligence Community *and* the rest of the government that is purportedly responsible for collecting and understanding open sources of information.

On balance I found this book to be a very competent, insightful, and well-documented survey of the current stresses and strains facing the U.S. national intelligence community. The conclusion that I drew from the book, one that might not be shared by the author, was that the U.S. Government as a whole has completely missed the dawn of the Information Age. From the National Security Agency, where too many people on payroll keep that organization mired in the technologies of the 1970’s, to the U.S. State Department, which has lost control of its Embassies and no longer collects significant amounts of open source information, to the White House, where no one has time to read-we have completely blown it-we simply have not adapted the cheap and responsive tools of the Internet to our needs, nor have we employed the Internet to share the financial as well as the intellectual and time burdens of achieving “Global Coverage.” More profoundly, what this book does in a way I have not been able to do myself, is very pointedly call into question the entire structure of government, a government attempting to channel small streams of fragmented electronic information through a physical infrastructure of buildings and people that share no electronic connectivity what-so-ever, while abdicating its responsibility to absorb and appreciate the vast volumes of relevant information from around the globe that is not online, not in English, and not free.

It was not until I had absorbed the book’s grand juxtaposition of the complementary incompetencies of both the producers of intelligence and the consumers of intelligence that I realized he has touched on what must be the core competency of government in the Information Age: how precisely do we go about collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information, and creating tailored intelligence, when we are all inter-dependent across national, legal bureaucratic, and cultural boundaries? This is not about secrecy versus openness, but rather about whether Government Operations as a whole are taking place with the sources, methods, and tools of this century, or the last. To bombs, bugs, drugs, and thugs one must add the perennial Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
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Review: Inside CIA’s Private World–Declassified Articles from the Agency`s Internal Journal, 1955-1992

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)

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5.0 out of 5 stars “Best of the Best” from CIA Insider Think Pieces,

December 18, 2000
Professor H. Bradford Westerfield
Brad, a respected scholar in his own right, was given unique access to all past publications of the CIA’s internal journal, Studies in Intelligence, and has produced an absolutely lovely collection of the best thoughts inside CIA from 1955-1992, organized into sections for imagery intelligence collection, overt human intelligence collection, clandestine human intelligence collection, human intelligence and its consumers, the analysis function, analysis and its consumers, and counterespionage. I regard this book as an essential supplementary reading for teaching both students and practitioners.
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Review: Present Dangers–Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Conservative Internationalists Provide the Game Plan,

December 7, 2000
Robert Kagan
his is a very worthy book, and should be much much higher in the popular sales ranking. I bought this book at the same time that I bought the more historically grounded “While America Sleeps”, and could not have asked for a better companion volume. Finally, I understand the forces that are tearing George W. Bush in two-on the one side, the conservative isolationists, who believe that we must reject internationalism in all forms, and eschew intervention or “911 missions” at all costs-and on the other side, the conservative internationalists, who by this excellent account have both a pragmatic and realistic grasp of the lessons of history, of the shrinking globe that we find in the present, and of the speed with which “regional” threats can become global challenges.The two introductory contributions, one on the national interest and global responsibility, the other on the differences between conservative isolationists and conservative internationalists and all others, are extraordinarily essential readings for anyone who hopes to understand the early days-and contradictory signals-of the next Administration. Individual chapters by very well-qualified experts cover the conservative internationalist view of China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Europe and NATO, Asian Allies, and Israel. More general chapters address the decline of America’s armed forces and the strategic case for dealing with weapons proliferation. The book concludes with three truly essential readings for any citizen, student, businessman, bureaucrat, or policymaker: on morality and foreign policy by William Bennett, on statesmanship in the new century by Paul Wolfowitz, and on strength and will in historical perspective by Donald Kagan.

Well-footnoted and indexed, this is a very serious professional contribution to the rather lackluster national discussion about where our national security and foreign policy should be going. As one who previously advocated a change from 2+ major regional conflicts (MRC) to 1 MRC and three separate forces for dealing with crime, environmental and cultural movements, and electronic and economic warfare (1+iii), I am now fully persuaded, mostly by the Kagan’s book “While America Sleeps” but also by this book, that we absolutely must go toward a 2+iii national security strategy.

My one concern about this book is that it completely ignores what is quaintly called Program 150-all that State Department, Peace Corps, Agency for International Development stuff. It also mentions intelligence and counterintelligence only in passing. Conservative internationalists clearly have the brain power and the strategic vision and the historical understanding to be vital protectors of America’s interests, but they must expand their vision to go beyond guns and consider the potential contributions of both diplomatic and economic butter, and applied intelligence. There is in fact a need to have a very strong Presidential program that fully advances, in an integrated fashion, American investments in diplomacy, defense, transnational crime fighting, economic assistance including a Digital Marshall Plan, and cultural exchanges worthy of a great Nation. This book lacks an appreciation for all the “soft” stuff, but it covers three of the four bases very nicely. A “strong buy.”

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Review: While America Sleeps–Self-Delusion, Military Weakness, and the Threat to Peace Today

5 Star, Force Structure (Military), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up Call for the Next President–Real World Security,

December 6, 2000
Donald Kagan
Two proven historians, a father-son team, draw stark comparisons between the post World War I period in which Britain took a gigantic “peace dividend” and allows its national defenses to crumble, and the post Cold War period in which America has done the same. Those who trust the Kagan’s analysis-as does the distinguished Colin Gray, master of strategic thinking-may skip the first half of the book and go directly to the second half focusing on the American experience.This is not, as some might claim, an ideological treatise. It is firmly grounded in history and the authors strive to present a balanced reasonable theme. I believe they succeed. Even for those steeped in the literature of the American military, there are new lessons in this book. Perhaps the three most important lessons are these: 1) regional threats can become global threats without sufficient warning such as is necessary to reconstitute global defenses; 2) successful diplomacy is best founded on the immediate availability of armed force that can be projected to any point on the globe with great credibility; 3) national security, unlike domestic policies, is not something to be achieved by consensus-this is where the President earns their keep, by guiding and forging a consensus in the absence of domestic constituencies for spending on external affairs and external security.

Especially gripping for anyone who anticipates a future in which Dick Cheney and Colin Powell have something to say about our national security, is the authors’ analysis of their strategic decisions following the Cold War. Both Cheney and Powell get very high marks for understanding that global strength is a pre-requisite for stability and security. The Powell vision for a Base Force with Atlantic, Pacific, Strategic, and Contingency force elements is categorized as brilliant. Powell does, however, get very low marks for being consistently unwilling to use force to impose order in the absence of clear objectives-the authors are very clear in calling the Weinberger Doctrine (setting conditions under which force may be used) completely out of date and at odds with today’s needs. Both President Bush and Chairman Powell are severely castigated for having ended the Gulf War too soon and without a decisive result-the author’s compare this to the similarly indecisive outcome of World War I, an outcome that left the aggressors strong enough to come back and fight another day.

The authors then go on to systematically review a series of major foreign policy and defense failures in the Clinton administration, an Administration characterized by a consistent failure to understand and address the mismatch between wandering and vacillating foreign policies and attendant commitments, and the real-world capabilities of a declining military force. Especially dangerous, in the authors’ view, was the Bottom Up Review approach that abandoned the Cheney-Powell appreciation for maintaining sufficient force to deter two regional surprise attacks (Russia and Iraq on one side, China and North Korea on the other), and instead adopted the premise that 6 months warning would be available, that reconstitution of both the force and its industrial base was possible, and that forces could be justified only in terms of existing threats, most of them from non-state actors. Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Iraq inspections, North Korea inspections, these are all reviewed and all are found to have left America with a legacy of half measures. “By trying to ignore the problem, to leave it to others, whether the UN or NATO, by declaring it to be of no vital interest to the United States, by refusing to use any force once involved and then to use adequate force once committed, they [Bush Sr. and Clinton] found themselves making the very mistakes that brought defeat and disaster in Vietnam, the fear of which had played so great a role, first in their failure to act and then in their inadequate response.”

In their conclusion, the authors find that the next Administration will assume responsibility at a time when the rest of the world has learned, from the past eight years, that America is not willing to summon the forces to defeat aggression; that developing weapons of mass destruction is the fastest means to elicit billion dollar bribes from America; that ethnic cleansing and politically driven mass starvation will not inspire intervention by America. “The most likely American response will be neglect, at first, followed by some attempt at negotiation. If, at last, driven to action, the Americans attack, it will be from the air, employing limited rules of engagement, and it will not destroy the aggressor. Ground forces will almost certainly not be used until the aggressor himself invites them in as part of a negotiation that gives him [the aggressor] most of what he wants. Above all, he should be sure to develop weapons of mass destruction. Even the hint of such a program in a threatening country will bring high-level American officials on top-secret missions to bribe its leaders to abandon the program. They will probably be able to keep the bribe and to pursue the programs they like, as well. These are the lessons America has given the world in the past eight years…”

The book closes by concluding that the strategic pause is gone and it is almost too late. Forces have declined severely (one can only lament the ill-considered Navy program for decommissioning destroyers and frigates that, once decommissioned, are almost impossible to resurrect), coalitions and alliances are in disarray, and non-state actors have learned how to play on the naiveté of the U.S. Government. America’s responsibilities for global stability and security are “inescapable”, and the next President must make the necessary commitments and be materially and morally ready to meet them.

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Review: Maestro–Greenspan’s Fed And The American Boom

5 Star, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Biography & Memoirs

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5.0 out of 5 stars Unconventional Wisdom Triumphs in Unconventional Times,

November 16, 2000
Bob Woodward
I am quite taken with this book, which at 234 pages is “just right” and well crafted and edited to tell an important story. This is a story about applied intelligence in the finest sense of the word. It is a story about a man well-versed in traditional economic research, traditional models, traditional assumptions about the marketplace, who was put into the most important position in the global financial system at just the right time. His intuition allowed him to detect unexplained changes in productivity and to direct new lines of research that helped persuade more conventional authorities to follow his strategy. This is also a story about a uniquely successful partnership between a Republican central banker and a Democratic President-the very heart of the story centers around Greenspan’s ability to persuade a very smart President that deficit reduction was the critical ingredient for a long-term restoration of American prosperity. Aided by an equally smart Secretary of the Treasury, Rubin, it was the President’s initiative to reduce the deficit by over $140 billion dollars that allowed all else to follow. There is a clear message here for those who would reduce taxes before finishing the job of eliminating the deficit. As a professional intelligence officer, I am very very impressed by the author’s recounting of how Greenspan actually “does” the job of intelligence collection and analysis at his level-the Central Intelligence Agency could learn a great deal from this man. The integration of constant (every fifteen minutes) monitoring of key indicators, the preparation of detailed research and statistics reports, and-by far the most important element-the continuous cycle of direct telephone calls and personal meetings across all sectors of the economy and around the globe, define what must be the most efficient and effective and valuable directed intelligence operation in the world-and one that does not steal the information it needs! There are a number of observations throughout the book that are helpful at a strategic level: 1) deficit reduction is the single best thing any President can do-that enables the Fed to be effective; 2) we forget so quickly how desperate the American economy was in the late 1980’s-in a volatile world it would be all too easy to enter a recession or have a major financial panic; 3) structured decision-making is extremely dependent on the models and the data-Greenspan’s place in history is assured because he had the intellect and the patience and the gut instincts to realize that the data was incomplete or too aggregated and the modeling assumptions were dated and no longer sufficient to plot the course of the new economy; 4) the psychology of the marketplace is at least as important as the reality, and is likely to be hurt by loose-cannon White House elements with good intentions but out of bounds; 5) even the so-called best and brightest in any Presidential administration will categorize new ideas they do not understand as “incoherent if not idiotic”, as Greenspan’s emerging new ideas were labeled by the top Treasury economists; 6) the concept of wealth redistribution fails to understand that even if $1 trillion from the 225 richest people in the world were redistributed to the poorest of the earth, this would only give them $1 a day for a year-Greenspan’s focus is on underlying structural changes and the advancement of capitalism such that wealth can be created for the poor on a sustained basis; and 7) there will always be wild cards, such as the Savings & Loan crisis, the LTCM (Long Term Capital Management) crisis, and the Mexico crisis, that require a financial management or central banking network able to capitalize on personal relationships and deep knowledge to find impromptu solutions. On the latter note, it makes one realize that in an increasingly volatile marketplace, there should probably be much stricter limits on “leveraged” actions, where the majority of the money for gambling on the stock market or in the bond market-as much as 95% of the money-is borrowed and therefore likely to be defaulted if the wrong bet is placed. There is nothing in the book regarding any steps that Greenspan has taken or is considering in order to bring added stability to the marketplace. If I have one criticism of this otherwise superb book, a book that sheds light on many aspects of the Fed and its Chairman, it is that there is no hint here of what Greenspan has learned that might lead him to suggest legislative or regulatory changes intended to improve public transparency of key economic transactions, limitations on risk intended to prevent one rogue elephant (e.g. LTCM) from bringing down the market, and so on. I would have liked to see a summation, even a two-page appendix, on the “before” and “after” economic models that Greenspan helped to change, and also some sense in the conclusion of what needs to be changed to keep future market crises within the bounds that can be managed by the Fed-Greenspan clearly has broad shoulders and a broad mind, but he can’t carry the load forever and this book fails to focus on what changes are needed to institutionalize the Greenspan wisdom.
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Review: Confessions of a Venture Capitalist–Inside the High-Stakes World of Start-up Financing

5 Star, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview with Plenty of Useful Information,

November 11, 2000
Ruthann Quindlen
I’ve been down this road, including competive selection to present my company and vision to three venture capital fairs. This book, which was bought as a quick-read airplane book, has become a fundamental reference. It is heavily marked up, has three paper clips (very unusual) as I look at it, and has had a very constructive impact on both my thinking and my attitude. This book has not only helped me refine our business plan, but when I feel like we are straying, I can pull it down and do a quick revisitation of “the fundamentals”. This is a serious helpful book–do not be put off by shallow reviews.
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Review: The American Encounter–The United States And The Making Of The Modern World: Essays From 75 Years Of Foreign Affairs

5 Star, Diplomacy

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem of Lasting Value, Especially Relevant Today,

November 11, 2000
James F. Jr. Hoge
This compilation of the “best of the best” articles from the journal Foreign Affairs is a real gem that is especially relevant today as America continues to neglect its international responsibilities and certain Senators and Congressman have the ignorant temerity to brag that they don’t own nor need an American passport. The conclusion of the July 1932 article by Edwin F. Gay, “The Great Depression”, is instructive: “The world war affirmed the international political responsibilities of the United States; the world depression demonstrates the economic interdependence of the United States with other states. It cannot be a hermit nation.” With four seminal articles from each decade (1920’s forward), including just about every great name in the international discussions of the century, this book is a fundamental reference point for those who would dare to craft a vibrant foreign policy for the United States in the 21st Century. The book ends with several thoughtful pieces including, most fittingly, an interview with Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore on culture as destiny, an article whose subtitle might have been “How extended families and the collective good still matter.”
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Review: Creating the Secret State–The Origins of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1943-1947

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Intelligence (Government/Secret)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Deep Insider-Doctoral History, Relevant Today,

October 13, 2000
David F. Rudgers
This is an admirable and unusual work, of doctoral-level quality in its sources and methods, while also reflecting the professional intelligence career status of the author. It complements Amy Zegart’s broader book, Flawed By Design, in an excellent manner. This book, focusing as it does on the CIA alone, and on internal sources not readily available to Zegart, fills a major gap in our understanding of the CIA’s origins. The author excels at demonstrating both the actual as opposed to the mythical origins of the agency, and pays particular heed to the role of the Bureau of the Budget and that Bureau’s biases and intentions. At the end of it all, the author notes that the agency was moving in controversial directions within four years of its birth, quickly disturbing Harry Truman, who is quoted as saying, twenty-years after the fact (in 1963), “For some time I have been distributed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational arm and at times a policy-making arm of Government….I never had any thought when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak-and-dagger operations.” The author himself goes on to conclude that “the nature of the new threats and the revolution in information acquisition and dissemination have thrown traditional ways of intelligence organization, collection, evaluation, and distribution into question. … CIA has entered the second half-century of its existence striving to avoid the fate of its OSS parent. In the process, it is groping for new missions and purposes while blighted by the legacy of its past derelictions, and while operating amid a rapidly changing global environment and technological revolution that are rendering its sources, methods, organizations, and mystique obsolete.” I would hasten to add, as my own book documents, that we will always have hidden evil in the world and will always needs spies and secret methods to some extent, but this book, combining academic rigor with insider access, must surely give the most intelligent of our policy, legislative, and intelligence managers pause, for it very carefully documents the possibility that 75% of what we are doing today with secret sources and methods need not and should not be done. This book has much to offer those who would learn from history.
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Review: Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats That Won World War II

5 Star, Biography & Memoirs, Change & Innovation, Force Structure (Military)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic Citizens Beat Petty Bureaucrats–A Cautionary Tale,

October 13, 2000
Jerry E. Strahan

I wish every doctoral dissertation were this useful. Under the guidance of Stephen E. Ambrose, well known for his books on the citizen-soldiers of World War II, the author has produced a very readable and moving book about one brilliant caustic citizen’s forgotten contributions to World War II. Two aspects of this book jump out at the reader: the first is that Americans are capable of anything when motivated. Andrew Jackson Higgins and his employees, most trained overnight for jobs they never thought to have, was able to create an assembly line producing one ship a day. He was able to design, build and test gun boats and landing craft on an overnight basis. He is remembered by Marines, and especially General Victor Krulak, for having given America the one missing ingredient necessary for successful amphibious landings-in this way, he may well have changed the course of the war and the history of our Nation. The second aspect that jumps out at the reader is that of bureaucratic pettiness to the point of selfishly undermining the war effort within the Department of the Navy and the Bureau of Boats. In careful and measured detail, the author lays out the history of competition between trained naval architects with closed minds, and the relatively under-trained Higgins team with new ideas, and shows how the bureaucracy often conspired to block and demean Higgins at the expense of the Marines and the sailors on the front line. There is less of that sort of thing these days, but it is still with us, as we contemplate the need for a 450-ship Navy that is fully capable for Operations Other Than War (OOTW). This book should be included on the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Chief of Naval Operations lists of recommended professional readings, and it should be studied by anyone contemplating the hidden dangers of bureaucratic interests that often override the public interest and undermine our national security.

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