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The French Secret Services: From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War Hardcover – August 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 623 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T); First Edition edition (August 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374158533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374158538
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,481,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This academic study of France's intelligence services traces the influence of intelligence estimates on French policy formulation and strategic decisions. Porch has pinned down an elusive subject (archival restrictions are severe), focusing on the political culture in which French intelligence has operated and the peculiar domination of foreign intelligence by the military: France is the only major power to place its foreign intelligence agency in its army. Citing the ill-preparedness of France in the two world wars, he sides with those who argue that the intelligence estimates were accurate but the politicians and generals failed to heed them. As to the future, he sees a need to consolidate resources and establish an intelligence network in France's Islamic community. This is a balanced assessment of the role and influence of the secret services in France by the author of The French Foreign Legion. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For the past century, the French secret service agencies have often been guilty of incompetence, dirty tricks, and partisan politics. Thus, they have been viewed with suspicion by average citizens as well as by the governments they served. In this clear, well-argued volume, Porch (The French Foreign Legion, LJ 6/1/91) traces the modest successes and the grand failures of the French intelligence services from the 1890s to the present. The failures are well known: responsibility for starting the Dreyfus Affair, inability to predict the time and place of the German invasions in both world wars, and the 1985 sinking of Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior, to name just a few. On the other hand, Porch gives high marks to some work done by the Resistance in World War II. He concludes his volume with several trenchant analyses of current problems and offers suggestions on how to make the French secret services perform more effectively. Highly recommended.?T.J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Govindan Nair on September 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
Popular memory is replete with images of France's intelligence failures prior to the Second World War, and during its own Vietnam War, as well in the dramatically bungled 1985 French intelligence effort leading to the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, a ship belonging to the environmental group Greenpeace. While these are all subjects treated in this book, Douglas Porch takes a far more penetrating look at the intelligence services of France, tracing their origins back to the ancien regime and Napolean, and looking at some lesser known sucesses. The depth of this book is impressive, given the well known propensity for secrecy among the French establishment which makes it exceedingly difficult for researchers like Porch to access relevant archives. This is a serious, academic study, and one which become even more relevant given the increased output in France during the 1990s, after this book was published in the United States, on some related subjects relating to French foreign policy. If you are interested in a less historical, less academic, and more limited English-language account of French foreign policy, including the role of its intelligence servies, try Mort Rosenblum's Mission to Civilize which I have also reviewed on this website.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gail H. Nelson on June 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Douglas Porch prepares an excellent and authoritative history of French Secret Services since the Dreyfus Affair. It is current and generally up to date. Well worth reading as a follow-on to Richard Deacon's previous work that begins French intelligence during a much earlier period.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Douglas Porch is one of those author/researchers who provides an exhausting and impeccably comprehensive presentation of his topics. This book is a must-read for people who wish to understand WHY things happened with regard to French national policy and military triumphs and failures. It's clearly head-and-shoulders above any other English language book on the subject. It's not a thin book, but Porch covers a lot of ground, doing a fabulous job as he proceeds and the years roll forth.

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