Parvulesco, Constantin. Secret Défense: Histoire du renseignement militaire français. [Defense Secret: History of French Military Intelligence] Boulogne-Billancourt: E-T-A-I, 2007.
Kahn, I&NS 23.2 (Apr. 2008), comments that this work is "not scholarly, but [it is] fun to look at because of its scores of illustrations."
Pennetier, Jean-Marc. "Review Article: The Springtime of French Intelligence." Intelligence and National Security 11, no. 4 (Oct. 1996): 780-798.
While reviewing three books by former intelligence officers and heads (Prieur, Paillole, and Silberzahn), the author makes some observations about French intelligence in general and the context of the three books specifically that are well worth reading.
1. "French Intelligence Culture: A Historical and Political Perspective." Intelligence and National Security 10, no. 3 (Jul. 1995): 486-511.
The "generic problems which afflict all intelligence services have been accentuated in France for at least five reasons:" One, French intelligence has historically served a national policy whose ambitions outreached national power. Two, France has a history of poor state-intelligence relations. Three, French foreign intelligence is exclusively dominated by the military. Four, the French Resistance left "a legacy of a strong 'action' culture." And, five, "French intelligence departs from the 'Anglo-Saxon' norm because domestic or counter-intelligence is more highly valued than external intelligence within the French political culture." The author concludes that the trials of the post-Cold War world will be "particularly acute for the French services, especially the DGSE."
2. The French Secret Services: From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995.
West, WIR 14.5, finds"disappointingly little" here that is new. Porch "has undertaken very little original research and relies heavily on secondary sources. Doubtless this approach explains the occasional [factual] lapses." In addition, the author's effort "to include as much as possible has led to a lack of discrimination.... Porch's contribution is to have produced a compendium of much, though not all, of what already has been written about the French security and intelligence agencies."
A different view comes from Warren, Surveillant 4.4/5: "This is the definitive history of the French intelligence system.... Porch intermingles historical and archival research with colorful anecdotes that make this book pleasurable as well as informative." A reviewer in VQR 72.1, finds "Porch's debunking of Philippe Thyraud de Vosjoli, the Peter Wright/James Jesus Angleton of the SDECE," particularly interesting.
Campbell, AIJ 16.2/3, notes that the book covers political intelligence, counterintelligence, and military intelligence, and gives it a "highly recommended" rating. Hitchcock, I&NS 12.4, calls Porch's work "an excellent, well-constructed narrative with a clear argument, based on a thorough knowledge of the available public record.... It focuses less on the craft and more on the political uses and abuses of intelligence in France." In the end, however, Porch "presents little new evidence."
Richelson, Jeffrey T. Foreign Intelligence Organizations. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1988.
According to NameBase, Richelson "offers organization-chart overviews of the services of several countries, and summaries of some of the current issues. Included [is] ... France (SDECE, DGSE, DST, and the Rainbow Warrior scandal). Cline, PSQ 104.1, comments that, "[g]iven the uneven quality of the information available to him, Richelson has done a skillful job of weaving together a systematic description of the secret intelligence agencies of eight important nations.... This ... publication is a reference tool that, despite its limitations, will be handy on the shelf for any researcher dealing regularly with the arcane world of secret intelligence."
Rochet, Jean. Cinq ans à la tete de la DST, 1967-1972: La mission impossible. Paris: Plon, 1985.
According to Porch, I&NS 2.1, Rochet's five years at the head of the French equivalent of the FBI is "a remarkable period of longevity in the unstable world of the French Secret Service.... Rochet's message is that the DST is a poisoned chalice which any prefect careful of his career will avoid taking up at all costs."
Silberzahn, Claude, with Jean Guisnel. Au coeur du secret, 1.500 jours aux commandes de la DGSE, 1989-1993. Paris: Fayard, 1995.
Pennetier, I&NS 11.4, comments that Silberzahn's four years as DGSE head saw "a major shakeup of France's services." In this book, Silberzahn details the changes he made in the service, but seems "prone to exaggerate ... the impact of his actions." At other times, "he succumbs to banalities, giving the book the tone of a recruitment prospectus." Nevertheless, this book "gives the reader an invaluable occasion to study and assess an intelligence service in mutation."
Thomas, Martin. Empires of Intelligence: Security Services and Colonial Disorder After 1914. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2008.
Peake, Studies 52.2 (Jun. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), finds that the author "compares French intelligence operations [broadly defined] in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Syria with those of the British in Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan, Egypt, and Sudan.... Thomas's extensively detailed and well-documented analysis concludes that the inevitable failure of colonialism was in part a result of the inability of the 'intelligence state' to accomplish unrealistic goals."
For Rathbone, I&NS 24.6 (Dec. 2009), "this is an unusually readable[,]...fascinating," and "admirably accessible book" written by "a scholar who is not only industrious but also tenacious and enterprising." Nonetheless, "Thomas can sometimes leave a reader with the impression that intelligence gatherers were smarter than they sometimes proved to be."
Thyraud de Vosjoli, Philippe L. Lamia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1970.
According to Pforzheimer, these are the memoirs of a French intelligence officer who served in the French Resistance in World War II and who was SDECE liaison in Washington at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Leon Uris fictionalized part of this story in his novel Topaz. Constantinides sees the author's intelligence activities relating to Cuba as of "strategic consequence and historical significance," but also notes that there has been no confirmation that his intelligence played an important role in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
Tombs, Robert and Isabelle. That Sweet Enemy: The French and British from the Sun King to the Present. London: Heinemann, 2006.
Bell, I&NS 23.3 (Jun. 2008), finds that "[s]pecialists in intelligence will find much that is directly relevant to their interests" in this "lively and clear" work that "is a pleasure to read."
Vaïsse, Maurice, ed. Il n'est point de secrets que le temps révèle. [There are no secrets at all that time does not reveal] Panazol: LaVauzelle, 1998.
Kahn, I&NS 23.2 (Apr. 2008), remarks on the breadth of this collection, reaching from the Normans to modern times.
Warusfel, Bertrand. Contre-Espionnage et Protection du Secret: Histoire, Droit et Organisation de la Securité nationale en France. [Counter-Espionage and the Protection of Secrecy: History, Law, and Organization of National Security in France] Panazol: LaVauzelle, 2000.
Kahn, I&NS 23.2 (Apr. 2008), says this "excellent" book "begins with the evolution of French counterintelligence after the loss of the Franco-Prussian War ...[and] covers its field thoroughly and well."
West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] Games of Intelligence: The Classified Conflict of International Espionage Revealed. London: Crown, 1989. New York: Crown, 1990.
Surveillant 1.1 notes that the U.S. edition has been updated. "West, as provocative as he is prolific, asks and answers ... questions about the workings of intelligence organizations in both East and West." A NameBase review calls the book "a broad, name-intensive survey of British, French, U.S., and Soviet intelligence." The author "prefers attention to detail and the occasional anecdote to make his points.... This makes the book a good read as well as a good reference to some of the available literature."
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