OVERVIEWS

United States

To 1989

R - Z

Ransom, Henry Howe.

Barrett, APSR 91.4, notes that at a time when few other scholars were working on the subject, Ransom "carefully and dispassionately sorted through the available evidence and information and offered a series of books and articles providing intelligent, critical, but fair-minded analyses of the U.S. government's secret agencies."

1. Central Intelligence and National Security. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958. JK468I6R3

Clark comment: This is an academic account of the early years of an institutionalized U.S. national intelligence structure. It was updated in 1970 as The Intelligence Establishment (see below). In 1961, Pforzheimer, Studies 5.2 (Spring 1961), called this "[t]he best current account of the development, organization, and problems of the U.S. intelligence system, with particular attention to the production of national estimates."

2. The Intelligence Establishment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970.

For Pforzheimer, this revised and expanded version of Central Intelligence and National Security is "less accurate and credible." It includes "a shallow look at the CIA and other members of the Intelligence Community, but with certain errors in his treatment of clandestine and modern technological intelligence activities." Constantinides notes that the book is mostly concerned with the CIA, with the FBI getting little attention. Although he has no experience in intelligence work, Ransom "displays a good grasp of intelligence techniques, organization, and functions. The presentation is fair and unemotional."

Relyea, Harold C. "The Evolution and Organization of the Federal Intelligence Function: A Brief Overview (1776-1975)." In Book VI of The Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate. Washington, DC: GPO, 1976.

Petersen: This portion of the Church Committee Report "is meticulously researched and is strong on civil liberties issues and bibliography."

Richelson, Jeffrey T. American Espionage and the Soviet Target. New York: Morrow, 1987.

Although much of this work is outdated, Petersen's earlier opinion was that it was "an important overall description of U.S. intelligence operations, with particularly good coverage of technical collection. The author believes that the United States has overestimated the Soviet threat."

Mark, I&NS 4,1, notes that the focus here is on the "methods by which the United States has tried 'to collect information on developments within the Soviet Union.'" (Emphasis in original) The reviewer finds that "[l]ittle of what is presented is new, but it is convenient to have so much gathered in a single amply-footnoted and well-indexed volume." Basically, however, the work is "themeless," the conclusion "appears something of an afterthought, and nothing in the text supports the recommendations with which the author closes."

Sayle, Edward F. "Historical Underpinnings of the U.S. Intelligence Community." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no.1 (Spring 1986): 1-27.

Petersen tabs this an "unmatched short historical survey."

Thomas, Stafford T. The U.S. Intelligence Community. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983.

Wilcox finds "many errors [and] gaps" in this overview.

Troy, Thomas F. "The Quaintness of the U.S. Intelligence Community: Its Origin, Theory, and Problems." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 2, no. 2 (Summer 1988): 245-266.

Troy argues that the U.S. Intelligence Community "is not a community.... [I]t lacks that sense of oneness, of wholeness, and togetherness that constitutes a community. If there is any sense of community in the intelligence structure, it is in the individual agency where people have their careers and place their loyalties.... No, the 'machinery' is not a community, not even an association, only an arrangement."

Volkman, Ernest, and Blaine Baggett. Secret Intelligence: The Inside Story of America's Espionage Empire. New York: Doubleday, 1989. London: W.H. Allen, 1989. [pb]

Clark comment: Volkman and Baggett have produced an episodic pastiche lightly covering American intelligence from World War I to the later 1980s. The strobe-light nature of the presentation is illustrated by a 17-page chapter on Desert One in a 229-page book. The subject matter is dealt with in four chronological parts: 1917-1945, 1946-1960, 1961-1973, and 1974-1988. Look elsewhere for a starting point if you have a serious interest in learning about American intelligence history.

Sexton dismisses the book as a "sensationalist account" that is of "limited value." For Kross, IJI&C 4.1, Secret Intelligence is "filled with interesting information and historical truth but lacks the detailed analysis so vital in any authoritative study." The book lacks a coherent theme, skipping from one vignette to another. The NameBase reviewer comments that "the teaser on the dust cover, 'The Inside Story of America's Espionage Empire,' shouldn't be taken seriously.... [F]olks who read only an occasional book will probably enjoy this one.... It may not be comprehensive, but it's painless, informative, and well-written."

Von Hoene, John P.A. Intelligence User's Guide. Washington, DC: DIA, 1983.

Widder, Arthur. Adventures in Black: The Inside Story of Undercover Agents, Espionage, and Counterespionage Activities -- from the Civil War to the Present. New York: Harper & Row, 1962.

Wise, David, and Thomas B. Ross. The Espionage Establishment. New York: Random House, 1967. London: Jonathan Cape, 1968. New York: Bantam Books, 1968. [pb]

Clark comment: This work garnered widespread attention when it was published, basically because it provided in a popular format information that many people had not previously seen. The authors discuss the espionage systems of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States, and China, and present some relatively interesting material on Soviet illegals.

Pforzheimer says the book's "section on the CIA is weak; however the chapter on the British intelligence services reveals considerably more than had previously been published. Comments on the Chinese intelligence services and activities are of little or no value." The absence of source citations and a bibliography bothers Constantinides, but he still finds that the sections on the Soviet Union and Great Britain "are marked by some good material."

Wittman, George. The Role of American Intelligence Organizations. New York: Wilson, 1976.

Wriston, Harry Merritt. Executive Agents in American Foreign Relations. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1929. [Reprint] Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1967.

According to Pforzheimer, Wriston reviews "the historical and legal foundations of the executive agent, including the intelligence agent, from ... the Continental Congress through the later 19th century.... Detailed examples are presented of intelligence collection, covert action, covert procurement, protection of sources and methods ... and the Constitutional basis and precedents of each.... This book is essential to the proper understanding of the historical and legal basis of present-day American intelligence systems."

Constantinides states that for persons "interested in the early roots of U.S. intelligence or the early use of secrecy and secret funds and operations to further U.S. objectives and for an antidote to the commonly held belief that Americans historically did not undertake, show interest in, or have talent for clandestine or covert action, Wriston's scholarly but easy-to-read study is a must."

Zlotnick, Jack. National Intelligence. Washington, DC: Industrial College of the Armed Forces, 1964.

Constantinides notes that the parts of this book on the organization of U.S. intelligence are dated. However, "the bulk still stands since it is concerned with categories of intelligence. It is well organized, precise, and commendably brief."

 

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