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Informing Statecraft Paperback – June 7, 2002

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The fruit of many years' experience of intelligence service, this is a masterful exploration of the field, its critical role in statecraft and the principles underlying its use and misuse. Codevilla, senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, argues that the American apparatus for collecting information, countering hostile intelligence, analyzing information and conducting covert operations developed in a random fashion without reference to underlying precepts. He contends that with notable exceptions U.S. intelligence has "usually failed," and he expresses astonishment at how unreflective those in charge of policy have been. In this closely reasoned, authoritative study, Codevilla conveys skepticism about the usefulness of spies, the efficacy of the CIA and the value of secret operations: "American covert action has made little difference in the world."
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Compared to some of the recent books on U.S. intelligence and the CIA--e.g., David Wise's Molehunt ( LJ 2/15/92)--this at times dense study lacks some of the flair, drama, and cloak-and-dagger elements that we might expect. It is an exceptionally well-informed introduction to the nitty-gritty of intelligence--collection, counterintelligence, covert action, analysis--filled to the brim with examples, lessons, and instruction. Codevilla is not sparing on the mistakes and foolishness of U.S. intelligence errors, but do not look for expose "now it can be told" stories and gossip. He is shrewdly aware that intelligence serves statecraft (or what might pass for it), and citizens must look to the character of basic policy, not the spooks, for the basic drives--especially in the "new world order" that lies ahead.
- H. Steck, SUNY at Cortland
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743244842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743244848
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,007,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Yes, Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century is relentlessly critical of the blundering past performance of various administrations, e.g., "Note well that liberals in America, when in charge of government at any level, of university faculties, or of CIA directorates, take care to hire and award contracts to likeminded folk and to exclude others." P 231.

And, yes the aphorisms are authentic, fascinating, and call for radical reformation e.g., "Sound knowledge of a disorderly world, rather than faith in a trouble free, post-end-of-history `new world order,' will best fit nations to thrive in the twenty-first century." P 72. "There is never enough intelligence to guarantee instant success at no cost and never enough to overcome entrenched prejudice." P 213. "It is more important to define what any particular job, e.g., espionage, is to accomplish, how it is to be accomplished, and to hire the right kinds of people to do it, than it is to decide for which bureaucracy these people will work." P 293.

But the roots of this work lie deep in lessons that humankind desperately needs to understand now at the beginning of the new millennium: the mystery of foreign lands and the mystery of the language, culture, and people integral to them.
o Despite superficial signs of a uniform world culture (cassette recorders, jeans, soda pop, burgers, rock groups), Africans are becoming more African, Asians more Asian, Russians more Russian, etc. The often astonishingly good English spoken by young people from Moscow to Mecca - never mind the Indian subcontinent, where it is the lingua franca - has led many U.S. analysts to the disastrous conclusion that foreigners can be understood in terms of what they say in English.
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Format: Hardcover
Admirably writeen, lucid prose, outstanding thought, this book would be the first book I would assign to anyone looking to understand the nature of intelligence.
It is interesting to note that Codevilla wrote two of the best introductions on "how to think" about two major subjects- about war in "War, Ends and Means" and "Statecraft". It is a crime that this book is out of print, and one should do everything in ones power to obtain a copy.
The only other book in the intelligence field that approaches this level of worth is "The New KGB, Engine of Societ Power", an older 1980's book by Robert Corson. All the other poor books on intelligence either take the character of "The Puzzle Palace" (which is stupid and an insider's pro-old boys network hack job) or one of Noam Chomsky's blithering semi-conspiracy theories. "Informing Statecraft" is the only type of really usefull intellectual companion to intelligence work in all existance.
This book is exactly what an intelligence book should be- an attack on the structural inadequacies of the United States intelligence community in the guise of a "how-to" book on how to run things correctly. Flipping through the book, one will wonder at the bales of common sensical yet brilliant realpolitik critiques involved in his analysis of what intelligence should be about.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm going to sound like a schoold-girl with an infatuation if I let what I think about this book out. One hears many reviews that begin with "This book should be the first book anyone reads about blah blah blah", but this is a rare case of crystal clear thinking about intelligence that amounts to a genius. Were I to make or run an intelliegence agency, this book would be the first book I would give to my officers and agents.
Maybe the reason for Mr. Codevilla's excellence is his devotion to translating Machiavelli (now that's someone I'd like to have in an intelligence agency), or maybe not. What I do know is this book talks first and foremost about the basic questions intelligence operations should be asking about themselves and their work.
I've read a lot of books about intelligence agencies, but they all end up being either a) anecdotal, story like intepretations, b) partisan tracts on different aspects of intelligence work, or c) op-ed pieces.
I would put this book even above such works as "The Puzzle Palace". The only other book I have read with this caliber material was on Russian intelligence, "The New KGB: Engine of Soviet Power".
This book, however, takes the cake, and it restores my faith in looking up obscure intellectuals- this reminds me of the HL Mencken maxim- "There are only two types of books: the kind of books people read and the kinds of books people should read". This book is the latter. Buy it and read it twice.
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By A Customer on August 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glad it's back in print! The best book on intelliegnce out there, a beautiful sythesis of general principles and historical examples. In particular, Codevilla has grasped James Jesus Angleton's seemingly simple insight -- that our enemies, as thinking, breathing human beings, may actually go out of their way to feed us false intelligence, so that we will believe things that aren't true -- which has been totally lost to CIA for almost 30 years. Instead, it has been replaced with a naive faith that CIA is simply too smart and professional to be fooled.
Codevilla, from years as a Senate intelligence staffer, knows otherwise, and he chronicles one blunder after another. The lesson: since few if any of Codevilla's proposals were implemented, when CIA says something does or doesn't exist, you should be very, very skeptical. CIA has secret intelligence right? They know things we don't, right? Wrong.
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