Review: The Art of Intelligence – Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service

4 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)
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Henry Crumpton

4.0 out of 5 stars As Good as It Gets From an Approved Insider,June 9, 2012

I write this as a former clandestine case officer who spent 30 years across all of the functions of intelligence less MASINT, and went on to write, edit, and publish nine non-fiction books on the craft of intelligence.

The author’s first book, Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA’s Key Field Commander, remains a classic in the field of CIA Special Operations at its best. This book, an approved book by an insider who sees the world through the very narrow lens of the CIA bureaucracy that shuts out everything it does not understand (which is to say, 80% of reality), is certainly one that should join the two standard works I recommend, Allen Dulles’ The Craft of Intelligence: America’s Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World and Miles Copeland Without Cloak or Dagger: The Truth About the New Espionage, but the title misrepresents the book.

The book is vastly superior to any of the tripe from wanna-bees that flunk out of training or fail in their first couple of tours and leave the CIA as disgrunted former employees. It is slightly better than some of the non-official cover officer memoirs but not as good as The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture or Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA. It is not quite the equal of some of the deeper works, such as Milt Bearden’s The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB or Steven Coll’s Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.

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