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Intelligence in War. Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda Hardcover – Sep 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; 1st edition edition (Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091802296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091802295
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.4 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,146,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'authoritative and thoughtful study’…..‘stimulating and informed book’ -- Alan Judd, Daily Telegraph

‘A thought-provoking and timely work on a widely misunderstood and over hyped subject. -- John Crossland, Sunday Times

‘Important and highly revisionist book’ -- Andrew Roberts, Sunday Telegraph

‘Intelligence in War combines the lucid prose, perceptive judgments and narrative power that Keegan’s readers have come to expect.’ -- Christopher Andrew, The Times

‘This excellent and highly readable book is vintage Keegan.’ -- The Literary Review

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Walker on 26 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you believe the cover this is a "magisterial new study" on the subject of military intelligence, with a "narrative sweep [that] is enthralling", "stimulating and informed", "a fascinating book on a fascinating subject", etc., etc., etc. I came to this with a very high opinion of John Keegan's work, having been bowled over by "The Face of Battle", one of the best military history books I have ever read, and one that thoroughly deserves all of the grand phrases I quoted above.

I see from the other reviews posted on different versions of this book that it has lived up to the billing for some people but I was disappointed in it. It is 440 pages long and after a brief introduction to different types of intelligence it consists of seven case studies, followed by a chapter to cover 1945 onwards, focusing mainly on the Falklands.

The case studies are arranged chronologically to illustrate the way intelligence has developed, but I still found them a rather odd choice. The earliest is Nelson's pursuit of the French fleet across the Mediterranean in 1798 so anything up to that date receives slightly cursory attention. Of the seven case studies, four of them concern naval battles (Nelson in the Med, naval action at the start of the first world war 1914, Midway 1942, the U-boat campaign in the Atlantic 1939-45). One case study is of `special weapons', the German V1 and V2 bombs launched in 1944-5. Only two chapters are about land war, and the choice - an airborne assault (Crete) and a `sideshow' from the American Civil War (Shenandoah Valley) - seem bizarre to me.

With four case studies out of seven, naval warfare is seriously over-represented.
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Format: Hardcover
Extremely interesting, as always with Keegan. Better on the historical material (perhaps because less familiar) than on the more up-to-date stuff. His account of Nelson's chase of the French fleet before the Battle of Aboukir bay is masterful.
Just one complaint - it needs better maps. So often military history books are marred by this. It can make it very difficult to follow the text. Why won't publishers listen?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
Classic Keegan 30 Sept. 2012
By Gregory Strong - Published on
Verified Purchase
This was a great audiobook by the highly regarded British historian. Like the best history, after reading it, I felt I had a greater understanding of the role of intelligence in war. Keegan's surprising conclusion is that intelligence alone is not enough and he cites several historic cases where even foreknowledge of enemy intentions did not win a battle. He dissects the Battle of Midway, for example, and points out something that I'd wondered about myself. The U.S. had broken the Japanese diplomatic code (Magic) but ship radio silences on Nagumo's task force meant that the U.S. still had to do some guessing about where the next attack would fall. Even though they managed to do this, they still only won the Battle of Midway by some lucky circumstances. Had Nagumo been a better commander and his flight decks been properly cleared, the U.S. planes would not have been able to sink Akagi. Keegan also tackles the Battle of the Falkland Islands and points out a number of British intelligence failures. In hindsight, it seems luck here, too, as well as the quality of British troops, played the key role in England's victory.
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