Sir Kenneth is actually more concerned with the intelligence function and its development since World War I in four Western countries (Britain, France, Germany, and the U.S.) than he is with the men, whose briefly sketched careers principally serve to exemplify problems, limitations, and ""lessons"" concerning modern intelligence information gathering and processing. Thus this is not for those who crave secret-agent melodrama and intrigue; indeed Sir Kenneth spends an entire chapter debunking the value of spies, noting that undercover agents ""generally rank low in the hierarchy of useful sources,"" mainly because their reports cannot ordinarily be verified (one of the basic rules of any respectable intelligence service). Instead, his outlook is thoroughly professional and undramatic, very much in keeping with traditional British phlegm and pursey-mouthed unflappability (cf. Master-man's The Double-Cross System, 1971, for similarity of style and viewpoint). Attention to detail, central coordination, reliance on a variety of information sources, and timeliness are vital to any successful operation, and the ""true men of intelligence"" are those with the talent for collating and evaluating masses of information and then rapidly forming reliable judgments. ""It is my experience,"" says Sir Kenneth, ""that the situation of the Intelligence estimator is not unlike that of the stock market analyst and forecaster."" It stands to reason then that his models are the highly structured French Deuxieme Bureau administered by Colonel Gauche in the '20's and '30's, the British Joint Intelligence Committee which was honed to ""a state of real efficiency"" under his friend Cavendish-Bentinck during the war years, and (this might come as a surprise) the American CIA which he now considers the best in the business despite its soiled public image; conversely he has little use for Gehlen (a sensationalist), Canaris (an intriguer), and Dulles is given the lefthand (""the last great Romantic of Intelligence""). Sir Kenneth spent over 40 years in this line of work (see his memoir Intelligence at the Top, 1969) and, although this lacks 007 pyrotechnics, his observations are decidedly worth tapping.