Spies, Lies, and Algorithms: The History and Future of American Intelligence

Book review by Deane Barker tags: spies

This is a lovely overview of the U.S. Intelligence Community by a woman that teaches a course on it at Stanford.

In fact, the book reads like a textbook (surprise – it is a textbook) . Each chapter covers a different aspect of intelligence. For example:

  • Analysis
  • Counterintelligence
  • Covert action
  • Reality compared to fiction
  • Cyber-intelligence
  • Congressional oversight

It’s well-organized, well-written, and she strikes a great balance between anecdotes and principles. This is a book like The $12 Million Stuffed Shark, which is great. And it’s unlike stuff from Rose George and Michael Lewis, which is also great.

The only downside is that it’s an overview, which is fine for a textbook, but I don’t know that I learned much new from it. Some of the anecdotes were quite interesting, and the chapter of congressional oversight was a lot of new information, but otherwise, it doesn’t have a lot of depth for anyone that’s done a lot of reading and research on the subject.

(One other interesting note: don’t let the page count fool you. The book is almost half endnotes and indexes. The main narrative of my Kindle copy ended at the 52% mark.)

Book Info

Amy B. Zegart

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