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General

1990s

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Richelson, Jeffrey T. A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. 1997. [pb]

Chambers notes that Richelson's A Century of Spies "covers human and technical intelligence in an even-handed manner and includes some technical topics that are not that well-known to the general reader.... There are a few omissions, no coverage of Soviet partisans in World War II for example, and the Ames case was too recent to merit more than a paragraph and a footnote, but some recent important cases that did not receive a great deal of coverage ... are discussed. The style of the book is consistently expository and analytical and not judgmental.... [The book] is well-written with each chapter internally cohesive and the overall flow is extremely smooth. References are extensive at over 2,000.... It will be an invaluable resource for the student of politics and military history and for the general reader for many years to come." Click for Chambers' full review.

To the Surveillant 4.2 reviewer, A Century of Spies is "as readable as a spy novel," an opinion concurred in by Jonkers, AIJ 17.3/4, who calls the book a "very readable overview." According to Cutler, Proceedings 121.11 (Nov. 1995), the "people and the technology that have made espionage what it has been over the last century are interwoven into this factual and fascinating account."

McGinnis, Cryptolog, Fall 1995, says this book "contains a remarkable collection of stories involving essentially every known spy operation of this century.... It is a good anthology of spying operations of all sorts, and it makes interesting reading particularly for the novice. It would make a good text book for individuals who need to know something about spying, and how it has been done in the past, and how some of it continues to be accomplished."

For Fromkin, FA 75.1 (Jan.-Feb. 1996), "A Century of Spies reminds us how central the ordinary business of spying and counterspying has been to the politics, diplomacy, and wars of modern history. Almost encyclopedic in scope, Jeffrey Richelson's valuable and comprehensive book provides concise and clearly written summaries of espionage operations from 1900 to our time."

Rich, WIR 15.3, finds a "fast-paced and engagingly written account" by "a fine writer [who] knows his subject.... [S]ome of the more complicated situations are amazingly well told despite the constraints of space." This is true specifically with regard to the story of the Zimmermann telegram and of the events leading up to Pearl Harbor. To Kruh, Cryptologia 20.1, this notable book "describes significant intelligence activities, organizations, and people who played a role in important intelligence operations during the past century." It is an "encyclopedic volume essential for anyone interested in military history, espionage, codebreaking and world affairs."

In one of the less praising reviews of A Century of Spies, Watt, I&NS 11.3, suggests that the author is "indiscriminate ... in his choice of sources" and has produced "a survey of old fashioned pseudo-historical spy books." The book "fails entirely to put clandestine intelligence operations in an overall view of the system of international relations obtaining at any one time."

Rusbridger, James. The Intelligence Game: The Illusions and Delusions of International Espionage. New York: New Amsterdam, 1990. [pb] London: I.B. Tauris, 1991.

Surveillant 1.3 describes The Intelligence Game as a "controversial and thought-provoking work ... [which] argues that most espionage is ultimately fruitless and primarily involves flagrant law breaking and abuse of civil liberties." A Surveillant 1.6 review comes on a bit stronger, calling the book an "[o]verstated, intemperate, arrogant, controversial, purportedly-objective 'expose' of the international intelligence business." The author "draws mainly on the operations of MI5 and MI6, but also looks at U.S., French, Soviet, Israeli and other services."

According to Choice, Nov. 1992, Rusbridger's "thesis is that intelligence agencies exist ... to cover up the mess made by poor policy." Wines, Washington Monthly, Nov. 1992, proclaims that Rusbridger "doesn't know much about American espionage, but that doesn't stop him from attacking it at length. He gets facts and figures wrong and makes statements about celebrated American spy cases that are plain silly."

Sawyer, Ralph D. The Tao of Spycraft: Intelligence Theory and Practice in Traditional China. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998.

Cohen, FA 77.6 (Nov.-Dec. 1998), notes that this work consists of "substantial translations of and commentaries on classic Chinese texts ... on early Chinese history, espionage, covert action, theories of intelligence assessment, military intelligence, and divination." For Paschall, MHQ Review, Spring 1999, this work "is written in a professional and straightforward manner.... [I]t reveals early Chinese thinking about a vital craft that can save lives and extend a nation's reach and purpose."

Finding that "[t]his work is not without flaws," Arpin, NWCR 60.1 (Winter 2007), comments that it "assumes that the reader has a basic understanding of traditional Chinese history and culture; some sections may be hard going for the casual reader. Parts of the book are rather dry," reflecting "the extensive translations more than the author's style. But for serious students of China, intelligence tradecraft, or information operations, this book provides essential understanding of contemporary Chinese statecraft."

Shulsky, Abram N. Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence. New York: Brassey's, 1991. 2d ed. Revised by Gary Schmitt. New York: Brassey's, 1993. 3d ed. New York: Brassey's, 2001.

Clark comment: Although somewhat dated in the 2010s, this remains the best single book on the general subject of intelligence. I recommend it as the first step for anyone who wants to begin a serious exploration of the subject.

Macartney, Intelligencer 3.2, says it is the "best textbook available for ... college courses on intelligence," since it "deals with intelligence in the generic, not just the CIA." Nevertheless, while it is "ideal as the basic text, ... it needs supplements." Intelligence history, military and tactical intelligence, and the intelligence-policy interface are missing. Updating his view, Macartney, Intelligencer 10.1 (1999), again calls Shulsky "the best text we have," despite its age. Macartney also comments on the problem occasioned by Shulsky's mingling of what "is" and what "ought" to be.

According to Peake, IJI&C 5.3, the book "will serve well those who do not accept it as gospel, but rather use it as stimulus for thought and discussion." The AIJ 14.2 reviewer sees Silent Warfare as a "serious book on intelligence by an insider" that "explains what national level intelligence is and how it operates." For the reviewer in Economist, 9 Nov. 1991, Silent Warfare is "a short, readable book which makes many purported secrets plain." Scott, I&NS 7.4, is strongly positive about Shulsky's work generally, but does note that there is "a somewhat [American] ethnocentric bias" to much of the evidence presented.

With regard to the first edition, Surveillant 1.6 finds that the book is both a "guide to ... the craft of intelligence" and "a framework for sizing up today's intelligence world, as well as the many developments likely to be forthcoming." Commenting on the second edition, Surveillant 3.4/5 notices that a "surprising amount of revising has been done to this essential and fairly new work, already a standard text in the field."

Cohen, FA 73.3 (1994), calls the second edition "[s]imply the best primer on intelligence now and for some time to come." Cohen also notes that the authors take "a dim view of what they consider to be the standard American conception of intelligence, namely, a social science. Rather,... they believe that intelligence is a struggle to hide, uncover or manipulate secret information." For Kruh, Cryptologia 18.1, the second edition "is an improvement to an already excellent work that serves equally well as a textbook or an authoritative guide for general readers."

Shulsky, Abram N., and Jennifer Sims. What Is Intelligence? Washington, DC: Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, 1992.

Shulsky (Deputy for Asia and Defense Strategy, Office of the Secretary of Defense) and Sims (SSCI Staff Member) present separate papers, with divergent definitions: Sims argues for a broad interpretation ("information collected, organized, or analyzed on behalf of actors or decision makers"); Shulsky, after his obligatory slam at Sherman Kent's reflection of the "optimism of the social sciences of the 1940s and 1950s," would take a more narrow approach, stressing that it is "secrecy ... which provides an essential key for understanding what intelligence is."

Stafford, David. The Silent Game: The Real World of Imaginary Spies. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys Ltd., 1988. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1991.

The subject is British spy fiction. See review by Hiley, I&NS 4.3.

 

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