The Craft of Intelligence: America’s Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World

Book review by Deane Barker tags: spies

This book was probably great back in 1965 or so when it was written, but it’s dated, 50 years later. There are several sections on the actual practice of intelligence, which may or may not less relevant today. Additionally, the communications revolution of the last 25 years has no-doubt changed a lot.

Several sections are interesting –

  • A chapter details lots of mistakes that compromised operations, from unexpected construction which covered up a dead drop, to undercover operatives who were hit and killed by cars completely by accident, which ended up compromising operations.

  • Another chapter discusses the rising tide of Communism, which is interesting coming from Allen Dulles, who is the prototypical Cold Warrior. Dulles had no way of knowing what would happen 25 years after he wrote the book, but it’s interesting to hear his perspective on the greatest threat to America during the height of the Cold War.

  • In another chapter, Dulles rails against leaks and the public disclosure of information. Apparently the enemy simply examined open congressional hearings on the defense budget, and monitored our professional and technical publications. All of this was a gold mine of intelligence.

The book was…okay. Dulles was a legend, and it was a decent primer on how intelligence works. However, when filtered through an intervening half-century, I’m not sure I learned much beyond the points I mentioned above.

Book Info

Allen W. Dulles
  • I have read this book. According to my records, I completed it on .
  • A softcover copy of this book is currently in my home library.

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