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Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence 3rd Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1574883459
ISBN-10: 1574883453
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shulsky, who points out that government intelligence is becoming a recognized area of academic study, here offers the first introductory textbook in the field, a codification that will be appreciated by serious students. The author assesses the three means by which raw intelligence data are gathered--from human sources, by technical means and open-source collection--and describes missions, methods of analysis and practical applications of the "product." Shulsky, a senior fellow at the National Strategy Information Center in Washington, D.C., reviews the wide variety of activities that come under the heading "covert intelligence" and defines counterintelligence. His approach is basically theoretical and refers almost exclusively to the Anglo-American experience.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Intended as a textbook to contribute to the academic study of this specialized field, this work also aims to counter some of the more alarmist and anti-intelligence books available. In eight chapters it explains the concepts, philosophies, and procedures of intelligence-gathering analysis and management. It examines how intelligence was used in various historical situations to explain a government's actions. It shows the importance of an individual's personality at every step of the process, particularly when it comes to acting on available intelligence. This easy-to-read-and-understand book should be considered by academic and large public libraries and those collections that support courses in security studies.
- Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1991 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: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books; 3rd edition (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574883453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574883459
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Silent Warfare is probably the best introductory text available covering the subject of intelligence. It reads like a text book, but that's because it basically IS a textbook. It's a serious academic text rather than a cloak and dagger story. This is one to read for understanding rather than necessarily for pleasure.
The book is fairly short but covers all the bases in terms of types of intelligence, types of intelligence organisation, the various debates surrounding the subject etc. It is, perhaps inevitably, somewhat America-centric. British intelligence and the KGB stick their heads into the picture from time to time, largely to provide illustrative comparisons rather than as studies in themselves.
When making a point, the authors generally try to provide historical examples and comparison, which is helpful, especially for the beginner. It also helps to enliven the text a bit.
The book is extremely well sourced and many of the end notes contain further explanations and are extremely interesting in themselves.
The only thing I feel the book lacks, and this is a fairly minor quibble, is a bibliography. This would have been very useful, especially in what is intended to be an introductory textbook. A bibliographical essay with suggestions for recommended further reading would have been even better.
Quibbles aside, this is a very good primer and to the best of my knowledge there are no books on the market that can compete with it in terms of providing a solid academic introduction to the subject. People with a serious interest in intelligence would be well advised to follow this book up by taking a look at the works of Michael Herman, which provide more in-depth coverage (especially "Intelligence Power in Peace and War") and a non-American (in this case British) angle - though they may be a little heavy for the absolute novice.
To sum up, if you have never read an academic book on intelligence before this is the one to go for.
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Format: Hardcover
Both the authors, Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt, are respected intelligence organization professionals who have taken up university-level teaching and writing. The book is focused on intelligence theory and organization - not on tradecraft. As such, the principal audience of this book would likely be future intelligence policymakers or foreign intelligence organizations trying to gain an insight into US intelligence systems.

The book does a solid job of identifying what intelligence is, how it is collected (humint vs. techint), how it is processed, how it is systematically protected, and what counter-intelligence includes. In addition, it addresses the gray areas of covert action (Is it intelligence or military activity?) and plausible denial. Although much of this discussion could apply to most nations' intelligence bureaus, the authors only explicity describe the American intelligence system.

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the book is the wealth of sources it contains. Many of these are freely and immediately available on the web for all to read. All the footnotes are very thoroughly explained and usually refer to a specific source. The source list itself adds tremendous value to the book by guiding the reader to so many numerous definitive works on intelligence operations.

All in all, this is a solid introduction to intelligence and a great book for pursuing its addition sources.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this text a few months ago, having read so many positive reviews on Amazon. While I am not regretting having bought it, I wasn't all too impressed by it. As others have noted, one thing the text does well, is it gives a solid background on what intelligence is and what it is not.

I understand that older books are out of date. I have read and appreciated many of them during my studies. However, for a book whose latest edition came out in 2002 to be this out of touch is laughable. The section about satellites was particularly amusing. It provided a lenghty definition of the term 'resolution', which was obviously aimed at a generation that has never used a home computer. Similarly, the book predicted how the cost of satellite imaging might go down and that it may become more common for smaller states to use it. In this day and age of Google Earth, I literally burst out laughing when reading this section.

There are other sections like this, but these two examples were particularly amusing and memorable.

To sum up, the less timely sections of this text on humint are well worth your time. Similarly, it does give sound definitions of basic terms and the scope of intelligence. Just be warned that you'll have to really bite your lip when reading some of the chapters on 'technology'.
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Format: Paperback
As a whole, the American public is often unaware of the important role which intelligence collection and analysis plays within the development of national security policy; Silent Warfare provides an excellent introduction to this role. While not patronizing the reader, Shulsky and Schmitt have managed to break intelligence down into its basic components, explaining the theories and experiences through easy-to-understand historical contexts. They explain the differences between technical intelligence, human intelligence, and open source intelligence; they also explain the often overlooked role of covert operations within the confines of intelligence and national security policy.
While dealing with such a touchy subject, Shulsky and Schmitt are also careful not to gloss over the short comings of the intelligence community. Within Silent Warfare, they touch on issues such as the "not built here" syndrome, as well as the American tendency to project American values on other populations which may -- or may not -- see things the way we do. They take these criticisms one step further by also presenting possible solutions, as well as the solutions currently in testing phases.
Overall, I felt this book was a great introduction to intelligence, breaking the essential elements down into east-to-understand phrasing and terminology without talking down to the reader and without overindulging in the use of the infamous "alphabet soup."
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