A vigorous survey with specific case studies and a useful bibliography for further study.




A nuts-and-bolts look at the history and uses of intelligence.

Veering off from his earlier Military Intelligence Blunders (1999), this more technical manual by British military historian Hughes-Wilson gives a solid overview of the importance of secret intelligence and case studies of successful and failed spying, from the earliest times to leaks by Edward Snowden and Al Jazeera. First, the author gives a quick survey of the history of intelligence, specifically in war, with an eye toward Machiavelli’s canny statement: “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.” Secrecy and surprise are tantamount to making good decisions, and Hughes-Wilson asserts, “military defeats are almost invariably associated with intelligence defeats.” He cites Hitler’s foolhardy attack of the Soviet Union without grasping Stalin’s ability to muster nearly 600 divisions against the Nazi onslaught. The author delineates the process of intelligence gathering (the “intelligence cycle”) and the difference between HUMINT (human intelligence) and SIGINT (signals intelligence). The former entails the motivations of the spy himself: money, ideology, coercion, ego, or grievance. Hughes-Wilson offers famous examples of each, such as the stunning identity of a Soviet spy “at the very top of the Nazi war machine,” code-named “Werther,” whose intelligence was crucial in defeating the Nazis on the eastern front: the personal secretary to Hitler, Martin Bormann. SIGINT includes code-breaking, such as the work of the fabled Room 40 in the Old Admiralty Building in London during World War II and the U.S. Navy’s cryptological breakthroughs in the summer of 1942, which allowed it to trap the Japanese fleet off of Midway Island. Surveillance (e.g., the Cuban missile crisis) and deception (D-Day) garner their own chapters, followed by the famous cases in which interpretation and dissemination of vital intelligence was ignored—most famously in the attack on Pearl Harbor. As the author rightly notes, technological leaks (e.g., Wikileaks), terror, and cyberwar present new intelligence challenges.

A vigorous survey with specific case studies and a useful bibliography for further study.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-302-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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