This sweeping history of the development of professional, institutionalized intelligence examines the implications of the fall of the state monopoly on espionage today and beyond.
During the Cold War, only the alliances clustered around the two superpowers maintained viable intelligence endeavors, whereas a century ago, many states could aspire to be competitive at these dark arts. Today, larger states have lost their monopoly on intelligence skills and capabilities as technological and sociopolitical changes have made it possible for private organizations and even individuals to unearth secrets and influence global events.
Historian Michael Warner addresses the birth of professional intelligence in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and the subsequent rise of US intelligence during the Cold War. He brings this history up to the present day as intelligence agencies used the struggle against terrorism and the digital revolution to improve capabilities in the 2000s. Throughout, the audiobook examines how states and other entities use intelligence to create, exploit, and protect secret advantages against others, and emphasizes how technological advancement and ideological competition drive intelligence, improving its techniques and creating a need for intelligence and counterintelligence activities to serve and protect policymakers and commanders.
The world changes intelligence and intelligence changes the world. This sweeping history of espionage and intelligence will be a welcomed by practitioners, students, and scholars of security studies, international affairs, and intelligence, as well as general audiences interested in the evolution of espionage and technology.
©2014 Georgetown University Press (P)2014 Redwood Audiobooks
"This book presents a tour de force through the history and evolution of intelligence structures. Michael Warner is uniquely qualified to conduct such a journey." (Michael Goodman, Department of War Studies, King's College London)
I found the book surprisingly dull and lacking insight. The author talks about how "intelligence" has been important to many historical events, but he is not interested in telling any stories or giving even brief biographies. The result is a random walk through the last 100 years of history from several different perspectives at once.
He will talk about China, Viet Nam, Northern Ireland and Central America in the same paragraph with the only common thread being secret information passing from person to person. He does not describe any covert operations or historical events from beginning to end which leaves the reader constantly adrift.
The author does not have any particular thesis about how intelligence grows or works, so you are never really sure why he chose a particular episode or technology to discuss.
He also assumes a fairly detailed understanding of 20th century history. He provides no context for events such as "Roosevelt and Stalin at Tehran" or "the Troubles" so it's not for historical dilettantes.
The performance is very dry but I am unsure if the reader was hamstrung by the material. Still, he should know how to pronounce "McAfee."
Being neither a collection of real life thriller moments nor an academic contemplation the book fell into a no man's land that I could not enjoy.
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