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Confidential [Hardcover]

John Nolan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 359 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (23 Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006661984X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066619842
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 910,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A guide to espionage in the private sector explains how to effectively gather information about competitors and their products while protecting one's own valuable secrets.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By A Customer
No matter what your job or what type of work you're in, reading Confidential will give you a new appreciation of the word "conversation". Until now I had not realized the technique behind some "leading" questions or how to ask "leading" questions to get answers that will allow you to be more efficient in whatever it is you do. Reading Confidential has opened my eyes and demonstrated how much more effective general conversation can be using the elicitation techniques described in John's book. Everyone wants to know what the competition is up to, and understanding the techniques and the "tricks of the trade" will give you a real edge on the competition. John's wit and experience make this book interesting and educational and gives you the ability to decide if someone is interested in you or just "what you know".
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By A Customer
The title intriqued me so I started reading. I found the information on elicitation techniques to be very helpful. Elicitation is something that can be used in every day life. I now know how to elicit more information at the next career conference I attend!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for small and medium-sized business owners/mgrs! 25 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on
There isn't a business alive today who isn't faced with stiff, sometimes overpowering, competition. One assumes that the large corporations have the resources to staff and manage a competitive intelligence program. But what about the small to medium companies?
In my practice as a marketing consultant to this size business, I'm amazed at how little companies often know about the competitors who are eating them for lunch. And then, how do they find the information that can make a difference? Where can they go to find expert help?
It is for precisely those reasons, I picked up this book. What an education I got and have already passed along to clients. The author very succinctly describes the whole gamut..from how to get information all the way to how to protect your company's trade secrets.
Of particular interest to me was the whole section on capitalizing on trade shows. This is typically a major expense yet, the opportunity is mainly wasted because companies don't realize the potential contacts they can make and information they can gather. Worse yet, they have no idea what the risk might be of having their employees give away information to those competitors "in the know" or who have already read this book.
While this topic is quite serious, the author manages to make it an fascinating read. He sprinkles enough stories from his career as a government intelligence officer to keep you guessing.
For anyone who thinks this is all bogus "spy" stuff, guess again. Everything the author recommends is completely legal and aboveboard. Those companies who are out there following his recommendations are pulling ahead of the competition. That's why this book is landing on my clients' desks.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I've Ever Read on Compretitive Intelligence 9 July 2003
By Mark Robinson - Published on
John Nolan, a 22 year veteran in the intelligence community, has written what I believe is the best book on the subject of competitive intelligence. Most books on competitive intelligence, more commonly known as CI, focus on the collection and analysis of information from online databases, the Internet, company financial reports, etc. Mr. Nolan's expertise however, is in "elicitation." Elicitation is the process of conversing with another person in a non-threatening manner and have that person unintentionally reveal information about themselves or their companies.
The most valuable parts of the book are those sections that cover the elicitation techniques - there are 17 in all according to Mr. Nolan. Readers will gain valuable insight into each of the techniques and how to use them. Mr. Nolan uses clear and concise examples to make his points.
Once the reader becomes expert at using the elicitation techniques, Mr. Nolan shows how to protect information, what to protect, how to protect it and for how long.
Mr. Nolan's book is engagingly written, and above all, useful the day one starts to read it. 'Confidential' describes ethical and legal procedures and processes that, with some practice, yield greater confidence in decisions that must be made 'ahead of the curve.'
Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down!
Mark Robinson, author of "Beyond Competitive Intelligence: The Practice of CounterIntelligence and Trade Secrets Protection."
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Intell Training You Can Get w/o a Top Secret Clearance! 29 July 1999
By Steve Hardiman ( - Published on
Bottom line: Leading companies in any industry must make more good decisions faster than the next guy to stay ahead. Ask the "also-rans" and they will tell horror stories lamenting better choices they would have made... if they had had better information. Confidential shows companies exactly how to get the information they need to stay ahead of the competition and "keep up with the Dow Joneses."
All of Nolan's strategies and techniques are legal. Even readers with squeamish scruples should remember that their competitors will not sit on their hands and let Mr. Nice Guy finish first. Citing Nolan, who quotes Frederick the Great: "It is pardonable to be defeated, but never to be surprised."
While the reader is left to speculate about the exact source Nolan's 22 years of Federal service in intelligence collection and counterintelligence special operations on three continents, Confidential reads like "Confessions of an ex-CIA Spy." The focus, however, is on how companies can employ tools of the Intelligence trade to the corporate world.
"Elicitation" is one of those tools. Exploit it in the heat of corporate battle, and it's both the primary assault weapon in the psychological guerilla war for intelligence, and the best defense against would-be infiltrators. Elicitation offers many techniques for obtaining intelligence from people. However, if you just learn Nolan's techniques, you miss the best part: A glimpse inside the mind of a 30-year veteran of intelligence and counterintelligence special operations.
Nolan's Confidential strikes gold - and fear in the hearts of unwary competitors. You may have fallen asleep in economics class and nodded off over many business books, but trust me, they *definitely* don't teach you this at Harvard Business School!
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great "How To Book!" 20 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on
I love the book, but I must say that I was confused that the reviewer "annonymous reader from San Francisco" would say sham on Mr. Nolan for passing something off as original when "they" knew that it existed back in 1995. Gosh, maybe Sun Tsu ideas weren't original either. However, back in the early days of my career in the government - long before 1995, I knew Mr. Nolan - John to his friends - and knew he was one the principal players in the 80's involved in the development of what became known as the Quarterback Approach. At one time they were called "On-Sites." Inside the system this tool continues to be reinvented every few years, much like so many tools that have surely been around since our old friend Sun Tsu.
Perhaps the reader was outside the system or is merely misinformed about the some of the more recent roots of this particular tool.
As a career professional I continue to translate those skills that I developed while a member of the "muddy boots" intelligence community into valued programs for my clients in the private sector. I do not feel guilty about it and my client appreciate it - value it. I am always seeing guys who are considered counter-terrorist experts - who are caching in on the skills they learned along side of me. I don't see any shame in enhancing "technology" even if it doesn't require electric power.
As far a John's book and its content, it has energy. It is one of the best translations of real intelligence methods into common, useful tools I have ever seen. It is a first rate book and I know Mr. Nolan to be a first rate guy.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keeping what's mine and taking what's yours 23 Dec 1999
By J. C. - Published on
I am not afraid to put my name to a review of this great work. John Nolan has captured in a single source reference book all of the tools needed to survive in a world where competitive business intelligence is becoming the master's game. My personal experience based on Mr. Nolan's ideas and lessons learned has allowed me to grow my company and protect out proprietary secrets from our competitors. I found myself reading several chapters over and over again as I incorporated his suggestions into my business and personal life. We have now trained our staff using John Nolan's suggestions and lessons. We have become intensely aware of how much "hard" information was going right out the front door to those we trusted most. We won't make those mistakes again. Anyone who discounts this work will not survive in the cutthroat business environment of today. Read the whole book and you will never again see your day-to-day operations in the same light. As has been said, "Game On, the next move is yours". We will now always be one step ahead of the competition, always watching our backs for that one weak guy who lurks in the shadows trying to take away what is ours to keep. When Mr. Nolan writes his next book we will be first in line to purchase 10 copies.
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