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on November 22, 1998
Richelson does an excellent job of providing a link and detail to all of the U.S. intelligence successes and failures over the last 35 years. This is a superb reference book for the young and old intelligence officer in a Joint or Interagency environment that needs to know how the intelligence system in the United States works. Richelson does not write in theory. All of this book is practical, useful and hard-hitting. It will give you excellent depth and insight into those often heard but little known intelligence successes and debacles. From the USS Pueblo to the origin and current status of satellite intelligence, this book covers it all.
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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2005
This one was a great reference up to 10 September 2001. Then everything changed and much of what is in this book is out of date. To be fair though, there is stll considerable value here, but that value puts it into the 'buy a used one' category (but hey, that slightly dog-eared, somewhat out of date, reference work on the shelf behind your desk gives you that 'old hand' 'been there, done that' credibility, so this isn't all bad.)

What's good about this one:
-The description of the intelligence cycle.
-The discussions of challenges facing the U.S. intelligence community post Cold War (but pre-9/11; belay that, many of the issues addressed are still challenges that have not been resolved, just set to one side in the pursuit of the global war on terror).
-The description and discussion of the processes and policies surrounding the intelligence cycle.
-It is a good reference work for tracing the establishment of several of the agencies.

What's not so good about this:
-The world changed two years after this book's publication in 1999. And all the shortcomings of this book stem from this. The description of the strategic organization of the U.S. military is not accurate. The Dept. of Homeland Security is not mentioned. The National Intelligence Director is not mentioned. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda aren't mentioned. The patriot act isn't here. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is here under its old name, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. And so forth...
-There have been some bigger changes that are mostly technology driven. At the time this book was written, the idea that one could get 1 meter resolution satellite imagery for free (though a little dated) was pretty shocking for most folks, but if you go to Google maps right now...

Over all, 'The U.S. Intelligence Community' is out of date for descriptions of the current establishment and much of the technology, but is pretty darn good for processes and some of the big concepts. Caveat lector: be mindful that technology changes constantly, and what's in this book was declassified, hence even further out of date than the copyright date would indicate.

Post Script: Thank you, W. Blair for pointing out that there is a newer edition. This review only applies to the fourth, not fifth and current edition. Darn you, W. Blair, for forcing my hand to get the new edition 8-)

E. M. Van Court
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on November 16, 2008
I have copies of editions 2, 3, 4 and now the 5th edition of this book - and it has gotten better each time. Dr. Richelson's study of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is amazing, and a testament to how useful open source information is. While some of the information is inaccurate (and I *can't* say what... ;-), it is to the benefit of the reader that this book offers so many sources. If its wrong, its not because he guessed wrong - it has been mentioned elsewhere. While not being 100% accurate, I would render a guess that 90% to 95% hits near the mark.

That aside, the organizational charts are amazing and very useful. This book has been used in the American Military University's intelligence studies program as a foundation textbook for many classes (coupled with other good books too!). While some spooks stick in their niche areas, others have copies of this book on their shelf to see what the rest of the IC does...

The only downside for this book - the cost. I would have never imagined paying near $50 on a paperback book. It was worth the cost though...
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on December 2, 2008
Richelson does his homework and provides a volume about the structure of the intelligence community either citing current data, or the most recently released declassified data concerning currently classified programs. Ultimately the book is a reference, not a read. He offers only a few pages of analysis on his work, so there is no new perspective on hot topics concerning the structure or function of the IC. That being said, there are not a lot of other books out there about the USIC, so you may have to go with this one if you want to know anything.
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on December 4, 2012
Purchased for class, sixth edition, contents are easy to read and fluid in explanations of subject matter expertise. The defining of problems and contents are addressed logical one after the other, without directing the reader to jump through the book, other chapters, to obtain a better picture of the resolve. The author did their work and some items of interests within the Iraq occupation were outlined and later identified again show trends in behavior of the IC. All though some issues are more directed at the CIA and their means of operation, tying one arm behind their back to expect better information was not the answer either. The text is focused on a grad level understanding of the IC and with that said other books have done equal if not better attempts in providing an introduction arena on the IC. But for depth and a good source of past/present issues, which is easy to comprehend then this book did a very good job at it.
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on December 1, 2013
Index makes it easy to find a little bit of information on a lot of topics, but the information presented on collection capabilities was only marginally accurate and incomplete even when it was current over a decade ago. I sincerely hope no staffers use this as a reference work to inform fiscal or policy decisions.
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on September 24, 2013
I have almost finished my degree in Intelligence Studies and have referenced this book on almost all of my assignments. I use it as an encyclopedia for the Intelligence Community and all of its inner workings. It has served me very well.
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"The U.S. Intelligence Community", fifth edition, represents an impressive amount of open source research by author Jeffrey Richelsom into the structure and functions of the post-9/11 intelligence infrastructure. The author is a longtime observer of the U.S. intelligenc community; his experience has allowed him to scour the corners of the media, academia, and a variety of archives for the makings of this book.

In roughly 550 pages, Richelson covers the basics of intelligence, the national and military service components of the U.S. community, the different intelligence disciplines, and a variety of associated topics, including counterintelligence and covert action. A concluding chapter addresses controversial topics within the intelligence community.

"The U.S. Intelligence Community" is a valuable academic resource; its material is presented in a remarkably even-handed manner. It also happens to be dry reading, while the source material doesn't include key information and perspective only available at the classified level. Any book this heavily reliant on media reporting will inevitably have only part of the story, and that partly wrong. Highly recommended as a teaching resource.
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on September 24, 2013
Does a great job breaking down the intelligence community and explaining each of the collection methods. I highly recommend this to any one trying to learn about the IC.
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on November 30, 2014
This book covers a great deal and I know it is not the latest edition, but it is a great reference book for those in the field and the students studying the subject.
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