counter create hit Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda

Availability: Ready to download

In fiction, the spy is a glamorous figure whose secrets make or break peace, but, historically, has intelligence really been a vital step to military victories? In this breakthrough study, the preeminent war historian John Keegan goes to the heart of a series of important conflicts to develop a powerful argument about military intelligence. In his characteristically wry an In fiction, the spy is a glamorous figure whose secrets make or break peace, but, historically, has intelligence really been a vital step to military victories? In this breakthrough study, the preeminent war historian John Keegan goes to the heart of a series of important conflicts to develop a powerful argument about military intelligence. In his characteristically wry and perceptive prose, Keegan offers us nothing short of a new history of war through the prism of intelligence. He brings to life the split-second decisions that went into waging war before the benefit of aerial surveillance and electronic communications. The English admiral Horatio Nelson was hot on the heels of Napoleon's fleet in the Mediterranean and never knew it, while Stonewall Jackson was able to compensate for the Confederacy's disadvantage in firearms and manpower with detailed maps of the Appalachians. In the past century, espionage and decryption have changed the face of battle: the Japanese surprise attack at the Battle of the Midway was thwarted by an early warning. Timely information, however, is only the beginning of the surprising and disturbing aspects of decisions that are made in war, where brute force is often more critical. "Intelligence in War" is a thought-provoking work that ranks among John Keegan's finest achievements.


Compare

In fiction, the spy is a glamorous figure whose secrets make or break peace, but, historically, has intelligence really been a vital step to military victories? In this breakthrough study, the preeminent war historian John Keegan goes to the heart of a series of important conflicts to develop a powerful argument about military intelligence. In his characteristically wry an In fiction, the spy is a glamorous figure whose secrets make or break peace, but, historically, has intelligence really been a vital step to military victories? In this breakthrough study, the preeminent war historian John Keegan goes to the heart of a series of important conflicts to develop a powerful argument about military intelligence. In his characteristically wry and perceptive prose, Keegan offers us nothing short of a new history of war through the prism of intelligence. He brings to life the split-second decisions that went into waging war before the benefit of aerial surveillance and electronic communications. The English admiral Horatio Nelson was hot on the heels of Napoleon's fleet in the Mediterranean and never knew it, while Stonewall Jackson was able to compensate for the Confederacy's disadvantage in firearms and manpower with detailed maps of the Appalachians. In the past century, espionage and decryption have changed the face of battle: the Japanese surprise attack at the Battle of the Midway was thwarted by an early warning. Timely information, however, is only the beginning of the surprising and disturbing aspects of decisions that are made in war, where brute force is often more critical. "Intelligence in War" is a thought-provoking work that ranks among John Keegan's finest achievements.

30 review for Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda

  1. 5 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    For decades Professor John Keegan has been one of my favorite military go to historians. I could easily be one of his squealing fainting fans. With sadness I must report that Intelligence in War is not up to his standard and cannot be recommended. His case study methodology, elsewhere very illuminating; fails to fully serve this topic. At least some level of quantitative research would have helped to save this book. The first warnings are in the introduction when he admits that he is not well tra For decades Professor John Keegan has been one of my favorite military go to historians. I could easily be one of his squealing fainting fans. With sadness I must report that Intelligence in War is not up to his standard and cannot be recommended. His case study methodology, elsewhere very illuminating; fails to fully serve this topic. At least some level of quantitative research would have helped to save this book. The first warnings are in the introduction when he admits that he is not well trained in the very large field of Military Intelligence. Not in itself a fatal limitation, but nothing that follows indicated that he overcame his limitation. Next he notes that in any number of fictional examples of espionage and spy books, the success or failure by the agents do not end the war or save the planet or whatever his criteria. Never mind that fictional spies save the world so often that the trope itself has become a joke. Fictional spies are always saving the world. For the more realistic examples of fictional espionage work blaming the spy for not changing history is like blaming a rifle company for failing to end an entire war. The example of the rifle company is deliberate. It is unrealistic to expect intelligence alone to be author of victory. Who has what soldiers where, after the battles are fought that most determines who has won the war. Everything else is more or less important, and by implication more or less incidental. The research question: What are the limitations of wartime intelligence? is valid. The professor’s examination of the question is insufficient. Military Intelligence in its broadest definition can so inform the possessing nation that policy level decisions favor peace or war. This is what the U2 flights over Cuba achieved over Cuba. Their refusal to believe intelligence lead the Japanese to launch a war against the western nations and the US. How many wars have been avoided or launched based on pre-war intelligence assessments is a question never properly researched by John Keegan. If the above examples are accepted as absolute fact, there is no reason to believe that the outcomes of each example had to be: a peaceful resolution of Soviet Russia’s attempt to place nuclear missiles minutes away from the US; or the stunning surprise attack on a vulnerable Pearl Harbor. It is just as valid to argue that it was the limitations on Japans relative economic and industrial capacity that most directly resulted in Japan’s ultimate defeat. Do we now need a new case study called the Supplies in War, to document the value and limitations of supplies? Can we make a similar case for moral, or religion or paymasters or head gear? The point is that intelligence is an input. It is a tool. It is a part of a larger set of facts. A good general makes do with what is available at the time of battle. The same good general will have seen to it that his subordinates, including those with little or no access to the full intelligence briefing are best picked and placed to make the best decisions, given what they know at decision making time. Battle, can be conceived of as the sum of numerous smaller engagements. The relative will, training, equipage, and a inventory of tangibles and intangibles may be the immediate predictor of individual or collective outcomes. What most good generald understand is the relative importance of Luck. (Attributed to many including Gen. Eisenhower: ‘I would rather a lucky general than a smart general”). What the best generals do is to work to improve or make their own luck. One, and only one of the tools for making luck is good, accurate, properly analyzed intelligence. It is telling that Keegan recognizes both the value of luck and quality soldiering but never quotes the best of the strategists on these topics. It is a major failing of the book that his book is uninformed by Sun Tzu. Even a few quotes would prove that he had made the effort to use research to augment his lack of depth on this subject. Attributed to or directly quoted from Sun Tzu: If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is FOREKNOWLEDGE. Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes: (1) Local spies; (2) inward spies; (3) converted spies; (4) doomed spies; (5) surviving spies. When these five kinds of spy are all at work, none can discover the secret system. This is called "divine manipulation of the threads." It is the sovereign's most precious faculty.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Don Yurmanovich

    I'm not going to pretend like this will be an unbiased review. I am a huge Keegan fan and have read five of his other books. Keegan's method, one of which I am particularly fond, attempts to give the reader a broader understanding of military history. This is not done by sketching an overall connective and encompassing outline but instead by taking a few slices from different eras and showing how they fit into the larger history. Both the small and large scale are needed to interpret and compreh I'm not going to pretend like this will be an unbiased review. I am a huge Keegan fan and have read five of his other books. Keegan's method, one of which I am particularly fond, attempts to give the reader a broader understanding of military history. This is not done by sketching an overall connective and encompassing outline but instead by taking a few slices from different eras and showing how they fit into the larger history. Both the small and large scale are needed to interpret and comprehend the other fully. In this work, he starts with Nelson in 1798 and essentially ends with the Falklands War. He touches on Al-Qaeda but not much history is given. As I have come to expect from him, Keegan writes with both clarity and density in 'Intelligence in War'. I had to resist the urge to highlight entire pages. Even for the events of which I was knowledgeable, he added detail and analysis that was enlightening. I read a book entirely on the Falklands War and yet his partial chapter on it added details I didn’t know. With all this being said, let me add some reflections on the book. 1) The book is heavy on the naval side. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; I find naval warfare fascinating. But I do wonder if it skews the analysis. Perhaps it would be worth splitting it into two volumes: one for naval and the other for land operations. I will return to the scope of the book later. But as it stands, there are chapters on The Mediterranean Campaign of 1798, von Spee's East Asia Squadron, The Battle of Midway, The Battle of the Atlantic, and a portion of the last chapter on The Falklands War. Land campaigns covered are only Shenandoah Valley and Crete. The hunt for the V1/V2 programs doesn't fit into either category neatly. Maybe it could be considered an air campaign. 2) It is also heavy on the modern side; four of the chapters are from WWII. His other books tend to have a better balance from different eras. Part of his point seems to be that useful intelligence was almost non-existent before electronic means of transmitting data. Maybe he is correct here, particularly from a strategic viewpoint, but this leads to my next point: 3) His definition of military intelligence seems rather narrow. I think the book does a good job of creating skepticism towards what might be a mythologized form of military intelligence: a key piece of information is discovered and a general alters his battle order last minute to seize victory. And to be fair, he does specify that he is only referring to operational intelligence. But why not speak of intelligence more broadly? I wonder if Keegan’s theme is aimed at an attitude much more prevalent in the UK than the US. After all, the "WWII was won with American steel, British intelligence, and Russian blood" is still repeated ad nauseam today. Perhaps in Britain the idea of intelligence equaling victory is popular. Otherwise, I wonder who holds the view he argues against. I have heard that human intelligence needed/needs to be rediscovered in the war on terror but he agrees that, in this case, good intelligence will be invaluable. And hence, point 4. 4) While the war of terror has a larger scope, it is not fundamentally different from a whole host of wars throughout history. By acting like the GWOT introduces some new scenario where intelligence is of utmost importance ignores the entire history of small wars, insurgencies, and guerilla strategies. He even mentions in passing that these types of wars in the second half of the 20th century involved more of the world’s population than World War II. Keegan seems to completely sideline half of military history, which is most notable because it is precisely the type of conflict in which intelligence is a primary asset. This omission, in my opinion, weakens the book far more than the other issues previously mentioned. Keegan’s book offers a great deal of knowledge on battles or operations unknown to many readers. He writes with lucidity and depth about the slices of history he highlights and I would recommend the book to anyone interested in military history. However, unlike many of his other books, I do not feel that these slices are a good representation of the overall picture and I am not convinced of his overarching thesis. Actually, I should be more specific. I’m unclear about exactly how far he wants to push his thesis. Does intelligence alone win wars? Of course not, but no one is arguing that as far as I can see. So how useful is military intelligence? Not very, seems to be Keegan’s answer. But I think his scope is strangely still too limited and the framing too restrictive for a satisfying answer. Final note: this was written in 2002, so be prepared for some remarks on Iraq that have aged, let’s say, quite poorly

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott Neal Reilly

    This is a history of the use of intelligence of a variety of types in war. The main thesis is that human intelligence (spying, espionage, etc.) is usually associated with intelligence but that the most important forms of intelligence are actually based on electronic surveillance and code decryption. This is a fine and interesting point. The presentation, however, tends to focus less on intelligence and more on warfare and the narratives of particular battles where intelligence played some role, This is a history of the use of intelligence of a variety of types in war. The main thesis is that human intelligence (spying, espionage, etc.) is usually associated with intelligence but that the most important forms of intelligence are actually based on electronic surveillance and code decryption. This is a fine and interesting point. The presentation, however, tends to focus less on intelligence and more on warfare and the narratives of particular battles where intelligence played some role, but the role of intelligence is often minimal. For instance, an entire chapter is devoted to Nelson chasing Napoleon around the Mediterranean because he didn't know where Napoleon's ships were as there was no way to gather such information at that time. Using this to make a point is fine, but the chapter went into great depth about what is a relatively uninteresting example from an intelligence standpoint. On the other end of the title is the role of intelligence in the battle against Al Qaeda, which seems like it should provide a wealth of positive examples. I guess this was a naive hope on my part (though one that was based largely on the title of the book) as much of that information must necessarily be classified, but the entire discussion takes up a brief reference in the Afterward. The book is mostly well written (a few places where it could use some improved editing, but nothing major) and probably interesting to those who enjoy warfare narratives, but it was disappointing from the standpoint of wanting to understand intelligence and intelligence gathering better.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mike Harbert

    Like most of John Keegan's books, this is not necessarily an easy read. Keegan's prose is often difficult for American readers, but I find that after about 100 pages it gets easier. This book is not intended to be a comprehensive history of the application of intelligence in modern warfare. Instead, much like Keegan's much better "Mask of Command," he provides a series of vignettes detailing some of the greatest moments in the use and application of military intelligence, loosely tied together in Like most of John Keegan's books, this is not necessarily an easy read. Keegan's prose is often difficult for American readers, but I find that after about 100 pages it gets easier. This book is not intended to be a comprehensive history of the application of intelligence in modern warfare. Instead, much like Keegan's much better "Mask of Command," he provides a series of vignettes detailing some of the greatest moments in the use and application of military intelligence, loosely tied together in a larger theme. Overall, I am generally a fan of John Keegan. I thought that "Mask of Command" and "Face of Battle" were excellent, well researched, well written, and insightful. They clearly show Keegan's brilliance as a military historian. "Intelligence in War" falls far short of that standard. In my mind, the book seems rushed, cursory, and rather lacking Keegan's usual insight. I guess that it could serve as a decent survey of the evolution of military intelligence in modern war, but it is clearly not Keegan's best work. Personally, I was disappointed.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    This one needed some gravy. The subject matter is infinitely interesting, but the delivery here was too analytical and academically-dry for me to really enjoy the stories behind the history. I have loved reading John Keegan, before, but this one didn't hold me like his others. This one needed some gravy. The subject matter is infinitely interesting, but the delivery here was too analytical and academically-dry for me to really enjoy the stories behind the history. I have loved reading John Keegan, before, but this one didn't hold me like his others.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tony Cavicchi

    John Keegan is a fantastic writer with INTELLIGENCE IN WAR as another great contribution to military history. This book is accessible to the average interested reader as well though. Keegan narrates nearly a dozen case studies and then the intelligence takeaways from them. The ultimate conclusion of his book is two-fold. First, "intelligence" does not win wars, the successful application of brute force does. However, intelligence can often make that task easier. Second, since Winston Churchill's c John Keegan is a fantastic writer with INTELLIGENCE IN WAR as another great contribution to military history. This book is accessible to the average interested reader as well though. Keegan narrates nearly a dozen case studies and then the intelligence takeaways from them. The ultimate conclusion of his book is two-fold. First, "intelligence" does not win wars, the successful application of brute force does. However, intelligence can often make that task easier. Second, since Winston Churchill's command to "Set Europe ablaze!" during World War II, Western thinkers and the public have mistakenly conflated "intelligence" and "subversion." According to Keegan, subversion is a style of warfare that ends unsuccessfully unless it is strategically integrated to an advancing army on a front. The collection of intelligence will be comprised by engaging in subversive activities, and the conflation encourages governments to militarize their intelligence agencies. Keegan disapproves of CIA's integrated structure, instead praising the British distinction between SIS (MI5 and MI6) and SAS (special forces). Keegan's case studies include fascinating details that illustrate how the advance of technology has changed our world. For example, German cruisers during World War I were able to successfully reprovision on French islands in the Pacific by preventing radio/telegraph to them at the launch of war. Similarly, Keegan emphasizes how cartography was once the pinnacle of intelligence. The invading Union armies of the American Civil War were unprovided with any real maps of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, enabling Stonewall Jackson to enlist local guides and create his own maps to end up where the Northerners least expected. But that problem continued through to the 1980s, where Keegan reported a SAS unit refused a mission against an Argentine airfield after learning the mission was planned based off a 1939 map (the most accurate the British had at the time). Keegan's descriptions of how the Poles and Britons decrypted the Nazi Enigma Machine are remarkably prescient today as well, however. Much of modern cybersecurity has its antecedents in what was accomplished at Bletchley Park.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    While I found Mr. Keegan's book insightful I do not believe it lived up to its title. Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda did not provide an in-depth insight into the art of intelligence and how it was used in war, so much as it was historical retellings of campaigns and battles that served as turning points in various wars. For example, a short few pages were dedicated to the cryptanalysis conducted by Captain Joseph Rochefort and his team at Hypo as they decip While I found Mr. Keegan's book insightful I do not believe it lived up to its title. Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda did not provide an in-depth insight into the art of intelligence and how it was used in war, so much as it was historical retellings of campaigns and battles that served as turning points in various wars. For example, a short few pages were dedicated to the cryptanalysis conducted by Captain Joseph Rochefort and his team at Hypo as they deciphered Japanese encrypted communications, and the subsequent deception used leading up to the Battle of Midway. While a great swath of the book described the actual Battle of Midway in significant detail. If you are interested in a book that breaks down various battles in detail and providing historical context for the significance of these battles, then this is a great book. I was looking forward to reading more about the craft of intelligence, and how it was utilized in the art of war throughout history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bayford

    With Intelligenve in War, Keegan continues to display his all-encompassing knowledge of military history, and makes another brilliant contribution to the study of warfare. Whilst certain sentences (especially in the first few chapters of the book) were difficult to read, the book itself is relatively simply set out, as Keegan evaluates a dozen different case studies of the subject matter. His conclusion (that whilst intelligence may be able to help a war, it is always secondary to brute force), With Intelligenve in War, Keegan continues to display his all-encompassing knowledge of military history, and makes another brilliant contribution to the study of warfare. Whilst certain sentences (especially in the first few chapters of the book) were difficult to read, the book itself is relatively simply set out, as Keegan evaluates a dozen different case studies of the subject matter. His conclusion (that whilst intelligence may be able to help a war, it is always secondary to brute force), runs powerfully and convincingly throughout the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shaivahn

    A thorough, comprehensive analysis of key developments in the military intelligence field across time. There is, of course, a natural bias toward historical events and figures that the author favors but the lessons learned are timeless nonetheless. This work describes the often cyclical, mutually dependent relationship between intelligence and combat. Instead of blindly praising the role of information on the battlefield, this work instead posits that luck can play just as important a part in su A thorough, comprehensive analysis of key developments in the military intelligence field across time. There is, of course, a natural bias toward historical events and figures that the author favors but the lessons learned are timeless nonetheless. This work describes the often cyclical, mutually dependent relationship between intelligence and combat. Instead of blindly praising the role of information on the battlefield, this work instead posits that luck can play just as important a part in success or failure in war.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gulo

    Keegan, a widely renowned war historian, fell short in his attempt to delve into the values and limitations of intelligence in war. In fact, there was little actual discussion about the use of intelligence in war and more focus on only detailing entire conflicts as case studies (as a historian would); where the author truly failed is in tying the case studies together in any way. Furthermore, his writing style is unnecessarily challenging with such choices as excessive use of commas yet, oddly, Keegan, a widely renowned war historian, fell short in his attempt to delve into the values and limitations of intelligence in war. In fact, there was little actual discussion about the use of intelligence in war and more focus on only detailing entire conflicts as case studies (as a historian would); where the author truly failed is in tying the case studies together in any way. Furthermore, his writing style is unnecessarily challenging with such choices as excessive use of commas yet, oddly, without use of the oxford comma. My one takeaway quote: “War is not an intellectual activity but a brutally physical one. War always tends towards attrition, which is a competition in inflicting and bearing bloodshed, and the nearer attrition approaches to the extreme, the less thought counts. Nevertheless, few who make war at any level, from commander to soldier in the life of battle, seek to win by attrition. All hope for success at lesser cost. Thought offers a means of reducing the price.” -J. Keegan

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    I love John Keegan. He is fantastic, and what usually makes him fantastic is not completely evident in this book. Usually he has a way of making war really exciting, while not getting carried away in the glorification of it, but this fails. Although moments are fascinating for the most part this is not worth a trip to the library. I would have rather reread The Mask Of Command or The Face of Battle I love John Keegan. He is fantastic, and what usually makes him fantastic is not completely evident in this book. Usually he has a way of making war really exciting, while not getting carried away in the glorification of it, but this fails. Although moments are fascinating for the most part this is not worth a trip to the library. I would have rather reread The Mask Of Command or The Face of Battle

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This is a superb work on the role of intelligence within warfare. Keegan's chosen case studies are: Nelson in the Mediterranean; Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley; wireless technology in the First World War's naval battles; Crete, Midway, the Battle of the Atlantic, and Peenemunde in the Second World War; and the Falkland Islands in the Cold War. Insights about other events from the Napoleonic Age to the world of today are consistently sprinkled throughout. This is an excellent book that could ea This is a superb work on the role of intelligence within warfare. Keegan's chosen case studies are: Nelson in the Mediterranean; Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley; wireless technology in the First World War's naval battles; Crete, Midway, the Battle of the Atlantic, and Peenemunde in the Second World War; and the Falkland Islands in the Cold War. Insights about other events from the Napoleonic Age to the world of today are consistently sprinkled throughout. This is an excellent book that could easily have some of its material worked into a history class that actually still deals with history.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Doninaz

    Keegan’s book deals with military intelligence, as distinguished from espionage: little glamour is involved, as these stories are wartime experiences. John Keegan was a military historian. His eight chapters, mostly war stories, provide meaningful lessons about types of military intelligence, where it can be successfully applied, and how it is limited. The book is well organized. Keegan prefaces each episode with rich background, so that the main activities are clearly understood in context. The Keegan’s book deals with military intelligence, as distinguished from espionage: little glamour is involved, as these stories are wartime experiences. John Keegan was a military historian. His eight chapters, mostly war stories, provide meaningful lessons about types of military intelligence, where it can be successfully applied, and how it is limited. The book is well organized. Keegan prefaces each episode with rich background, so that the main activities are clearly understood in context. The background is itself, a short history lesson. Keegan then describes the type of intelligence featured and how it was applied. At the episode’s conclusion, Keegan analyzes the value of the intelligence in that particular situation. Keegan’s episodes span across history from Napoleonic times through World War II, revealing the wide applicability of his lessons. Keegan then adds a chapter on intelligence since World War II. He concludes with an overall analysis on the value of military intelligence. Surprisingly, Keegan concludes that in war, intelligence often fails its expectations. Information about the enemy, his location, and his plans is often either difficult to obtain, misleading or misinterpreted, or less important than the forces being employed. Even in the Battle of Midway, a near-perfect case where broken codes revealed the Japanese fleet’s intentions, the ultimate victory owed much to chance. Not everyone will be tolerant with Keegan’s thorough development of his episodes, but few will be disappointed with his attention to detail. His lessons are instructive and his revelations bring his scenes to life.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    "Military intelligence" and other oxymorons. Keegan's 2003 "Intelligence in War" is more a general interest collection of battle case studies rather than an in depth look at the role intelligence plays in warfare. That's not to say Keegan's general premise is wrong, it's not. intelligence is a necessary, but not sufficient, element in warfare. But battles and wars can, and often are, won in the face of poor intelligence just as they are lost despite one side having clearly superior information. K "Military intelligence" and other oxymorons. Keegan's 2003 "Intelligence in War" is more a general interest collection of battle case studies rather than an in depth look at the role intelligence plays in warfare. That's not to say Keegan's general premise is wrong, it's not. intelligence is a necessary, but not sufficient, element in warfare. But battles and wars can, and often are, won in the face of poor intelligence just as they are lost despite one side having clearly superior information. Keegan rightly, if somewhat obviously, notes that success in war ultimately boils down to force, or the willingness/ ability to use it. No matter how good the information, unless a commander or state is willing to act, it's just data. The case studies Keegan offers include Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah, submarine warfare in WWI and WWII, the Battle of Midway, among others. There's an extended section on the Falklands War which seems out of place but is still interesting. The timing of the book is really the most interesting part. Written in 2003 at the height of the war on terror and the efforts to discover/ uncover Iraq's WMD program, Keegan's book is really a salvo against TV talking heads and armchair generals who loudly and piously proclaimed what intelligence was *obviously* saying/ not saying about Al Qaeda, Iraq, WMD, etc. Keegan subtly chastises such intellectually vapid approaches by noting that "intelligence" is simply information that must be interpreted and that people can reach different interpretations. And that it's not until one acts that you see whether that information, and that interpretation, was accurate.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim Martin

    _Intelligence in War_ by John Keegan asks a basic question; just how useful is intelligence in warfare? There is he wrote a great deal of literature that seems to suggest that it is of enormous importance but Keegan sought to show exactly just useful it really is. First, Keegan defined intelligence. There are five fundamental stages in intelligence practice, the first being acquisition. While the data gathered may include published and publicly available information, generally information that is _Intelligence in War_ by John Keegan asks a basic question; just how useful is intelligence in warfare? There is he wrote a great deal of literature that seems to suggest that it is of enormous importance but Keegan sought to show exactly just useful it really is. First, Keegan defined intelligence. There are five fundamental stages in intelligence practice, the first being acquisition. While the data gathered may include published and publicly available information, generally information that is useful in a military situation is gathered through clandestine means, the main types being spying with human agents (human intelligence or humint), the interception of an enemy's communications, a method generally requiring decryption (signal intelligence or signit, the main type of intelligence discussed in the book), and visual imaging or surveillance, through aerial photography provided by aircraft and satellites. Throughout the book Keegan discussed the pros and cons of each type of intelligence and their relative importance over the years. Second, there is delivery (something nontrivial especially for the transmitter of humint). A major problem for centuries was the difficulty in sending collected intelligence to a potential user in a timely fashion, in "real time" (a major problem before the telegraph). The third stage is acceptance of the gathered intelligence, of either accepting the source or believing instead that the information is wrong or in fact is an example of enemy counter-espionage. The fourth stage is interpretation, the art and science of weaving together a picture from the many scraps collected to produce a useful picture of an enemy's capabilities and intentions. Finally is implementation of this intelligence. The bulk of the book is a collection of case studies, examples that Keegan took from history to illustrate various points about the collection and use of intelligence and how these points are still applicable to the modern policymaker. He began in the age of sail, when the main difficulty in the intelligence field was in the struggle to acquire useful information and deliver it to intelligence officers at such a speed so it wouldn't be out of date, and ended near the present, when there is such a vast wealth of information of all sorts - "frustratingly rich" as Keegan put it - that the volume threatens to overwhelm the minds of those seeking to evaluate its worth. The cases Keegan chose were extremely interesting and very well-told stories, ranging from Admiral Nelson's chase of Napoleon's fleet in 1798 that culminated in the Battle of the Nile to the use of intelligence in the 1982 Falkland Islands War, each case study well illustrated with photographs and excellent maps. Though each case study could simply be read as a detailed and well-written historical account, they also served to illustrate various points Keegan was making about intelligence in war. For instance, the German airborne assault of Crete in May 1941 vividly showed that even the best intelligence in the world is no good if the defense is unable or unwilling to profit from it. Despite nearly real time intelligence provided to the commander of Allied forces on the ground in Crete, including the timing of the attack, the objectives, and the strength and the composition of the attacking force, the Germans won the day. The Germans won by a combination of extreme nearly berserker recklessness on their part and the belief of the local Allied commander that he could successfully retire, regroup, and counterattack after a bit of rest at one part in the battle, leaving a small opening that the Germans were able to exploit, something that they should have not been able to do. This illustrated two points that Keegan made several times in the book; one, that no matter how good the intelligence, that given equality of force, the outcome will still be decided by the fight, and that in a fight, again given equality of force, the outcome will be the result of determination. The Battle of the Atlantic - the struggle with the U-boats in World War II - has long been cited as an example of the victory of intelligence use, but Keegan showed that while intelligence was very important, one should not overlook the parallel importance of non-intelligence factors. Though Bletchley Park has been lauded for its ability to break Enigma and route convoys around U-boat wolfpacks and patrol lines, other factors played as big or a bigger role in an Allied victory, including an increase in the size of the merchant fleet, vast improvements in the technology to detect and destroy U-boats, improvement in the capabilities and numbers of escorts, and the advent of escort carriers. The British coming to terms with the German V-Weapon program illustrated the importance of interpretation and the pitfalls of photographic intelligence. Despite a number of over flights of Peenemünde - the test center for the V-weapons - and ample photographic surveys and despite humint pointing to radical new weapons programs being developed there, the British were slow to understand what was going on at Peenemünde chiefly because the British intelligence apparatus lacked any practical knowledge of either rocket or cruise missile technology and did not know what to look for nor realize what they had in fact seen. In truth the aerial surveys had photographed equipment related to the V-weapons as well as the V-weapons themselves but the intelligence officers did not know what they were looking at and/or dismissed it, with such policymakers as Lord Cherwell insisting that any German rocket be a huge, slow-speed, solid-fueled, multi-stage rocket requiring a huge launch tower, rather than looking for or accepting the existence of a smaller, high-speed, liquid-fueled weapon requiring only a very small launch apparatus. So what did Keegan conclude? Intelligence is important in war, there is no doubt, but good intelligence does not "unerringly point the path to victory;" that while it is necessary, it is not sufficient to ensure success. Willpower often counts for more in warfare, intelligence only being useful when there is the strength and the will to use it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Yin

    Intelligence in War, written by John Keegan, is supposedly a research book discussing predictably, the usage and efficacy of intelligence in winning wars. However, though Keegan speaks extensively on multiple historical skirmishes across several countries and cultures, I find that the direction he takes is more often than not simply an extremely long summarization of circumstances, with minimal mention of any intelligence collected by the officers in command of the battles. The thesis of this pu Intelligence in War, written by John Keegan, is supposedly a research book discussing predictably, the usage and efficacy of intelligence in winning wars. However, though Keegan speaks extensively on multiple historical skirmishes across several countries and cultures, I find that the direction he takes is more often than not simply an extremely long summarization of circumstances, with minimal mention of any intelligence collected by the officers in command of the battles. The thesis of this publication is that intelligence, while useful, “does not point out unerringly the path to victory”. Though well supported by research, this thesis still presents an idea that anyone who has even a superficial proficiency in military history already knows, and that no historian in recent memory would contradict. Keegan prefaces his research by admitting that before publication, he had very little practical knowledge of the role intelligence has played historically, and very little interest in the subject. In my opinion, his writing is extremely transparent in this regard; Keegan spends as little time as possible explaining the different kinds of intelligence that exist, and I had to independently research the terms that he actually covered. Based on case studies of specific conflicts throughout history, Keegan jumps from example to example in each chapter, with minimal explanation as to how acquired intelligence, or the lack thereof, actually turned the tide of the battle or conflict. For example, in the first chapter of his presentation, he begins with a brief mention Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Persian Empire, in which he used the regional intelligence gathered from his youth to exploit internal divisions and conquer the empire based on the fractures he created. However, in this case the intelligence used was actually integral to the success of his campaign, and therefore directly contradicts Keegan’s proposed thesis, especially with the following assertion that regional intelligence “underlay many of the greatest exploits of empire building” (Keegan 22). Keegan fails to elaborate on any other factors that may or may not have impacted the tide of battle, and his focus on strategic intelligence across multiple campaigns barely constitutes any kind of focus at all. Even his explanation of the Mongolian Muslim campaigns in the 13th century, which largely used a strategy focused on terrorizing the public, barely elaborates on their specific strategy. Even the longest paragraph, detailing the Roman intelligence system barely scratches the surface in terms of its interaction with the battles the imperial army fought in its heyday. And when he does cite a specific example, his explanation of the Roman-Gaul conflict does not explain other factors involved in the conflict that resulted in a Roman victory. In fact, Keegan writes in depth on how Caesar went to “ great trouble to assemble economic and regional intelligence, just as Alexander had done, and he was a coldly cynical assessor of the Gauls’ ethnic defects, their boastfulness, volatility, unreliability, [and] lack of resilience” (23). Ultimately, though it is quite obvious what Keegan is trying to do with his research, in practice his writing falls short. The majority of the text is just an in depth description of military warfare in history. Though Keegan does make some mention of factors beyond the acquisition of quality intelligence, he does not, in my opinion, effectively draw conclusions about what his research is saying. Furthermore, in some cases, Keegan fails to make any mention whatsoever of intelligence during a conflict, which, because his work is about the indecisiveness of quality intelligence in military situations, is kind of a necessary mention if one wants to prove this particular point. Had I written this book, I would have without a doubt mentioned battles that had a significant element of intelligence involvement, as opposed to Keegan’s method, which was to attempt to detail battles that had little to no intelligence involved, or to minimize the true impact of having access to such intelligence. However, more often than not, Keegan described battles and conflicts that had a degree of intelligence, and some in which the acquisition of high quality, reliable intelligence was actually indispensible to the victors of the battle. Ultimately, I found this book to be a bit disappointing. While good for someone who is looking to get a cursory background in military strategy, it does not really cover the role that intelligence plays as its title would have one believe. By calling into question the true value of intelligence in wartime situations, Keegan also calls into question the value of practices such as torturing prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, or in any such situation. If, as John Keegan asserts, “war is ultimately about doing, not thinking,” (436), he completely discounts military strategies within the intelligence community (CIA, NSA, Mossad, etc.) that involve the torture of prisoners of war during international conflict. Even with the idea of and “ideal of military intelligence, when one side is privileged to know the other’s intentions, capabilities, plan of action in place and time”, the British still lost the Battle of Crete against the German airborne invasion in 1941. As such, Keegan points out a sobering reality: even with the most thorough and high-quality intelligence, unless a force is thoroughly prepared for and well matched against the invading force, there is absolutely no chance that the attacked can properly be defended. Though it is a common-sense kind of conclusion, Keegan points out that intelligence will never be a deal breaker in terms of who wins a war. Much like we discussed earlier in the year, Keegan concurs with the suggested inefficacy of any previously acquired knowledge, especially if the defending force is in a position of “strategic inferiority”, as Keegan calls it (440). This means that even if the CIA managed to extract any valid information from captured terrorists or prisoners, should we still be ill equipped to protect against certain types of attacks (biological warfare in a suburban setting, for example) we would still lose the battle, much like we concluded in class.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aranka

    This book falls short of the expectation set by the title. It is supposed to be analytic, to debunk the myth of intelligence. But to my dissappointment, it was a very pure textbook-like illustration of military history. There is virtually no demystification - in fact the author said in the book that many military innovations/technologies have been kept secret. And they surely will not be revealed here. The main point that the author wanted to make from the whole lot of historic events is that int This book falls short of the expectation set by the title. It is supposed to be analytic, to debunk the myth of intelligence. But to my dissappointment, it was a very pure textbook-like illustration of military history. There is virtually no demystification - in fact the author said in the book that many military innovations/technologies have been kept secret. And they surely will not be revealed here. The main point that the author wanted to make from the whole lot of historic events is that intelligence does not determine the outcome of war. Just reading the beginning and end is enough to get the whole analytical picture. Several interesting points were made in the beginning and applpicable to other areas: - Don't look for information accessible from public sources to include in intelligence; - Intelligence is only useful when sent to an audience; - Intelligence is highly scattered and unsystematic; - It can be a mundane work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hans

    The author takes some historical battles, ranging from Nelson chasing Napoleon's ships in the Med to the Falklands war, and shows what role intelligence played during these battles. There are a number of case studies that were interesting to read. But I found the introduction of the book and the first two chapters hard to read and get into. Later chapters were, in my opinion easier to read and follow. In part this can be explained by me being unfamiliar with Napoleonic naval battles and my limit The author takes some historical battles, ranging from Nelson chasing Napoleon's ships in the Med to the Falklands war, and shows what role intelligence played during these battles. There are a number of case studies that were interesting to read. But I found the introduction of the book and the first two chapters hard to read and get into. Later chapters were, in my opinion easier to read and follow. In part this can be explained by me being unfamiliar with Napoleonic naval battles and my limited knowledge of the American Civil War. What the book does succeed in doing quite well is showing that gaining intelligence on the enemy is of importance, that even then there is still a battle to be won. In the case of Crete and Midway, both WWII examples, there was good intelligence on the enemy plans or positions. But in the end it was luck and/or bad luck that won the battle. Interesting book, but I had expected more of it somehow.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peter Fox

    This is far from Keegan's best work. For a book on intelligence, it features less than what you'd expect. There is a lot of historical background, a bit on how the intelligence was gathered, some space is then given to how the intelligence is used, but it feels more like a series of snapshots of campaign history. The first two chapters, Nelson and Stonewall Jackson, quickly get repetitive, as they recount the movements of ships and troops to the point where you're heartily fed up of hearing who m This is far from Keegan's best work. For a book on intelligence, it features less than what you'd expect. There is a lot of historical background, a bit on how the intelligence was gathered, some space is then given to how the intelligence is used, but it feels more like a series of snapshots of campaign history. The first two chapters, Nelson and Stonewall Jackson, quickly get repetitive, as they recount the movements of ships and troops to the point where you're heartily fed up of hearing who marched (or sailed) where and when. Coronel is interesting, but more so because it is fairly obscure. Crete made the good point that knowing the enemies intentions isn't decisive in itself, as you still have to win the battle. Midway, again felt like a war story, as did the Atlantic. The V weapons chapter was ok, but again, mostly about context. The final chapter, apart from the Falklands section, felt rushed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Dambro

    Keegan was the dean of English military historians for much of his adult life. This volume about the use and misuse of Intelligence in war is excellent. His use of case studies and his analysis of the outcomes is spot on. I am sure this book is on a CIA or MI6 reading list somewhere.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alec

    Well written, but felt more like a general military history than a history of the use of military intelligence. Arguments probably could have been a bit more synthesized and the book could have been organized by tactical, operational, and strategic success and failures rather than chronologically.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Taylor

    The author examines intelligence efforts in wartime, with interesting examples from the Mongols, American Civil War, and the Falkland War, among others. The book details numerous battles and wars and then deconstructs them from the perspective of the role of intelligence.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tomlikeslife

    Not one of his best efforts.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

    Didn't finish, boring!!!! Didn't finish, boring!!!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    SR Bolton

    Wonderfully entertaining history!

  26. 5 out of 5

    J.K. George

    Actual non-fiction that reads like a creative novel. Great stuff, well researched.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David W Harris

    The chapters in this feel like they last a long miserable eternity. Good information though.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Baudelairecestpasmoi

    It has interesting information, but it's also repetitive. It has interesting information, but it's also repetitive.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    Great History Book. Highly recommend. I agree with the notions on 20th century Intelligence, however, I do somewhat disagree with his value of Intelligence in 21st century conflicts.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jason Medcalf

    Heavy focus on the navy and communications, excellent insight into WW1 and Napoleonic battles

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.