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Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence, 3rd Edition 3rd Edition
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 13 ounces
- Paperback : 262 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1574883453
- ISBN-13 : 978-1574883459
- Dimensions : 5.58 x 0.69 x 8.12 inches
- Publisher : Potomac Books; 3rd edition (May 1, 2002)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #771,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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One reviewer mentioned that there wasn’t much here that you couldn’t get from “following the news.” I’m not quite sure what made the reviewer make that claim. If you just glance at the notes section for the book, you can’t help but think that this book was relatively well researched and its sources go well beyond just newspaper articles. I’ve read some books where practically every footnote or endnote is a reference to some newspaper article. That’s not the case with this book. Sources range from government reports and books written by other experts in the field to articles from industry journals that may or may not require you to buy a subscription (e.g., Studies in Intelligence, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, …). Some newspaper articles ARE cited. I think I saw one to an article in Foreign Affairs and another to a Washington Post article, but clearly this book isn’t just a compilation of news tidbits that one reader might have you believe. In fact, the notes for this book are some of the most detailed, yet most interesting notes I’ve seen in a book. In fact, I underlined and made notes on many of them.
My intention is not to make this post a thorough, top to bottom review of the book. It’s received 31 reviews in addition to what blurb may be found on the jacket cover, so I figure someone has probably already “been there, done that.” However, I do want to address another “critical” review of the book, which addresses its lack of thoroughness on counterintelligence. First of all, if you read the cover of the book, you’ll know that this is not a book specifically on counterintelligence. It is a book on intelligence, of which counterintelligence is merely one aspect. I don’t think the author tries to pretend otherwise. Granted, the book doesn’t go into great detail on some sections (its section on codes and ciphers comes to mind), but I do think it gives just enough to pique the interest of readers and whet their appetite for more. As for counterintelligence, specifically, the author does devote an entire chapter to it and I will admit that if you are already working in intelligence or have in the past, some of this will be very basic for you and/or be something you’ve heard repeated over and over again. Classification levels come to mind here and, more specifically, the issue of “overclassification." But even entry-level intelligence practitioners may find it interesting to know that:
“In recent years, the same issue [overclassification] has surfaced in other countries, particularly Great Britain, where the laws governing the release of governmental information are much stricter than in the United States.” (p. 102)
Lastly, allow me to point out another aspect of this book that I believe adds to its credibility as a book worthy of purchase for those interested in this topic: the number of editions for it. I haven’t read this anywhere, so I don’t know how valid this line of reasoning is, but it would seem to me that if a book is worthy of a second or third update/revision, there’s a reason for it. An author isn’t going to take the time to update and a publisher isn’t going to spend the money for reprint if a book isn’t selling. SILENT WARFARE, now in its third edition, clearly must be appealing to someone, somewhere … and for a reason.
I will give points for thoroughness, especially in looking at all sides of our political controversies over the years. But then, his exposition becomes tedious and pedantic. One does come away with the feeling that some of the controversy has been partisan posturing and we could have come to better consensus arrangements with less public sound and fury.
"Silent Warfare" is the best introduction I have found to the arcane world of intelligence and is an excellent textbook for an introductory course. However, in a utopian world that course would be taught over a year and in its second semester students would read another excellent intelligence text, "Intelligence From Secrets to Policy" by Mark Lowenthal, which moves from the abstract to general, but specific practices and operations of the U.S. IC. The two books compliment each other very well.