The Secret World: A History of Intelligence

Book review by Deane Barker
tags: spies, history
2018
Christopher Andrew
960
6/10

This book is exactly what it claims – a magisterial history of intelligence and espionage. But, it left me a bit frustrated. (I wrote a blog post about this.)

The book is a series of anecdotes, with no framework for understanding the larger issues of intelligence. It’s episodic – a series of vignettes, basically. One could say that’s all history really is, but I was looking for more over-arching principles. I was trying to find out what the “gestalt” of intelligence was.

I tried to draw some principles out of it:

etc.

There’s more, but because the book didn’t concentrate of them, they escape me. In the end, I read a lot about This Person Doing This and That Person Doing That. I don’t feel like I understand and comprehend intelligence at much of a deeper level than I did when I started, and that’s a shame.

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