Thursday, April 12, 2007

Review: Intelligence in War

Intelligence in War, by John Keegan is about, well, intelligence in war. The book sets out to prove a thesis, which first struck me as kind of odd: intelligence doesn't win wars, fighting does. Intelligence just helps the process along.

Keegan then goes on to show historical examples, from Napoleon to current day, where intelligence (or lack there of) played a role in the outcome of a battle. However, he makes it clear, intelligence only takes you so far. You still need to fight the good fight and a bit of luck never hurt either.

I found this whole argument got a bit repetitive at times. Perhaps the first time he made this point I had an "ah-hah" moment, but by the fifth time I was feeling a bit weary.

With that said - the famous battles that Keegan recounts more than make up for his verbose arguments. I simply had no idea how remarkable the battle of Midway was, or how the British dealt with the V2 rocket attacks. Did you know that the Poles cracked Enigma using pure mathematical theory? Neither had I.

In the end I'm not sure I learned anything Earth shattering about intelligence from this book. But it did provide a neat vehicle for getting a much needed history lesson, and for that I give it plenty of credit.

I give the book a 7.352/10 - it gets a bit stale at times, but provides for plenty of action as well.

--Ben

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