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Intelligence In War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda Paperback – 7 Oct 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; Re-issue edition (7 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712666508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712666503
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Authoritative and stimulating" (Daily Telegraph)

"This stimulating and informed book...has no contemporary equal. Keegan has done it again" (Daily Telegraph)

"Intelligence in War combines the lucid prose, perceptive judgements and narrative power that Keegan's readers have come to expect" (Christopher Andrew The Times)

"This excellent and highly readable book is vintage Keegan" (Alistair Horne Literary Review)

"A fascinating book on a fascinating subject, written by a master of the craft" (Raymond Carr Spectator)

Book Description

A fascinating and highly readable study of this most topical of subjects by the most distinguished contemporary writer of military history.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating and instructive book, though the author sometimes is overly repetitive, as if the manuscript was not properly checked by the author or a good editor. Emphasis is placed on the effects of an absence of intelligence, misleading intelligence or good intelligence, and the importance of communications systems and timely delivery and analysis of information. Thus the examples are useful in commerce and even domestic situations removed from the military context of the case studies.
An early example is a naval code system capable of conveying several hundred altetnative complex messages by the positioning of a few flags. The code book made it possible to identify and read the message quickly. Alas code book worked on decoding the message quickly but it was very difficult to encode a message. The comparison would be an English to German dictionary with no German to English section.
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Format: Paperback
John Keegan explores, in seven case studies, the value of information about the enemy, and the means of obtaining such information, in conducting warfare. Four of his studies come from the Second World War, the others from the War of the French Revolution, the American Civil War and World War I. Methods of gaining intelligence include: reconnaissance (or lack of), local geographical knowledge, human agents, wireless interception and analysis (and other technical advances such as radar) and code-breaking.

Keegan’s (not very surprising) conclusion is that, however good one’s knowledge of the enemy’s plans and dispositions, that enemy still has to be fought and beaten. Knowing the German battle plan did not enable the British to successfully defend Crete in 1941. In June 1942, at the Battle of Midway, American wireless traffic analysis and cryptanalysis had identified the Japanese intention and the order of battle of their task force. This enabled the Americans to concentrate their limited naval forces at the decisive point. Even so, the battle could have gone either way. The Americans needed a large slice of luck, plus Japanese indecisiveness, in order to win an overwhelming victory.

The focus on Intelligence makes this is an interesting book. However there were a number of minor errors which suggest poor proof reading, or possibly poor research by Keegan. On page 242, Keegan says that, in the Battle of the Atlantic, during the first three years, sinkings of British ships in convoy were 0.02% of ships sailed; in 1943-45, losses were 0.009%. According to the raw data of ships sailed and sunk given in the text, the percentages were 1.5% and 0.9% respectively. Either Keegan or his reference source has miscalculated.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book.
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As always Keegan delivers a great book. Accurate and readable
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The title and the content have only a partial connection with the 'stories'.
AND -my fault for not checking-the publication date is so old that the last chapter is trivial.
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