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Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence, 3d Edition [Paperback]

Abram N. Shulsky , Gary J. Schmitt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2002 1574883453 978-1574883459 3
A thoroughly updated revision of the first comprehensive overview of intelligence designed for both the student and the general reader,Silent Warfareis an insider's guide to a shadowy, often misunderstood world. Leading intelligence scholars Abram N. Shulsky and Gary J. Schmitt clearly explain such topics as the principles of collection, analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action, and their interrelationship with policymakers and democratic values. This new edition takes account of the expanding literature in the field of intelligence and deals with the consequences for intelligence of vast recent changes in telecommunication and computer technology the new "information age." It also reflects the world's strategic changes since the end of the Cold War. This landmark book provides a valuable framework for understanding today's headlines, as well as the many developments likely to come in the real world of the spy.

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Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence, 3d Edition + Inside Canadian Intelligence: Exposing the New Realities of Espionage and International Terrorism, 2nd Edition + Smokescreen: Canadian Security Intelligence After September 11, 2001
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Shulsky, who points out that government intelligence is becoming a recognized area of academic study, here offers the first introductory textbook in the field, a codification that will be appreciated by serious students. The author assesses the three means by which raw intelligence data are gathered--from human sources, by technical means and open-source collection--and describes missions, methods of analysis and practical applications of the "product." Shulsky, a senior fellow at the National Strategy Information Center in Washington, D.C., reviews the wide variety of activities that come under the heading "covert intelligence" and defines counterintelligence. His approach is basically theoretical and refers almost exclusively to the Anglo-American experience.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Intended as a textbook to contribute to the academic study of this specialized field, this work also aims to counter some of the more alarmist and anti-intelligence books available. In eight chapters it explains the concepts, philosophies, and procedures of intelligence-gathering analysis and management. It examines how intelligence was used in various historical situations to explain a government's actions. It shows the importance of an individual's personality at every step of the process, particularly when it comes to acting on available intelligence. This easy-to-read-and-understand book should be considered by academic and large public libraries and those collections that support courses in security studies.
- Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Silent Warfare is probably the best introductory text available covering the subject of intelligence. It reads like a text book, but that's because it basically IS a textbook. It's a serious academic text rather than a cloak and dagger story. This is one to read for understanding rather than necessarily for pleasure.
The book is fairly short but covers all the bases in terms of types of intelligence, types of intelligence organisation, the various debates surrounding the subject etc. It is, perhaps inevitably, somewhat America-centric. British intelligence and the KGB stick their heads into the picture from time to time, largely to provide illustrative comparisons rather than as studies in themselves.
When making a point, the authors generally try to provide historical examples and comparison, which is helpful, especially for the beginner. It also helps to enliven the text a bit.
The book is extremely well sourced and many of the end notes contain further explanations and are extremely interesting in themselves.
The only thing I feel the book lacks, and this is a fairly minor quibble, is a bibliography. This would have been very useful, especially in what is intended to be an introductory textbook. A bibliographical essay with suggestions for recommended further reading would have been even better.
Quibbles aside, this is a very good primer and to the best of my knowledge there are no books on the market that can compete with it in terms of providing a solid academic introduction to the subject. People with a serious interest in intelligence would be well advised to follow this book up by taking a look at the works of Michael Herman, which provide more in-depth coverage (especially "Intelligence Power in Peace and War") and a non-American (in this case British) angle - though they may be a little heavy for the absolute novice.
To sum up, if you have never read an academic book on intelligence before this is the one to go for.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Introductory Text Feb. 11 2003
Format:Paperback
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in gaining a basic understanding of the world of intelligence, counterintelligence and covert action. The text formed the basis for my course on American intelligence at a local college. The feedback I received from the students about Silent Warfare was 100% positive. A review of intelligence related syllabi from colleges and universities around the country indicates it is a very popular introductory text.
The popularity of this book is due in large part to Shulsky and Schmitt's ability to explain difficult concepts, and navigate the reader through the Intelligence Community bureaucracy as well as related legal/constitutional issues. The students were particularly grateful for the captivating historical examples sprinkled liberally throughout the text. Best of all it is a relatively short read with extensive and insightful endnotes.
My only (and small) criticism of Silent Warfare is its description of open source collection. The authors use a generally accepted definition: "... newspapers, books, radio and television broadcasts, the Internet, and any other public source of information." However, they stray off the mark a bit when they classify "diplomatic and attaché reporting" as open source. I would contend such reporting clearly belongs to human intelligence (HUMINT), as neither diplomatic nor attaché reports are "public source[s] of information." Again this is a small criticism, but as an open source practitioner I could not let it slide.
Overall, Silent Warfare is an excellent text which should be the first read for anyone interested in the world of espionage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Intelligence Dec 4 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As a whole, the American public is often unaware of the important role which intelligence collection and analysis plays within the development of national security policy; Silent Warfare provides an excellent introduction to this role. While not patronizing the reader, Shulsky and Schmitt have managed to break intelligence down into its basic components, explaining the theories and experiences through easy-to-understand historical contexts. They explain the differences between technical intelligence, human intelligence, and open source intelligence; they also explain the often overlooked role of covert operations within the confines of intelligence and national security policy.
While dealing with such a touchy subject, Shulsky and Schmitt are also careful not to gloss over the short comings of the intelligence community. Within Silent Warfare, they touch on issues such as the "not built here" syndrome, as well as the American tendency to project American values on other populations which may -- or may not -- see things the way we do. They take these criticisms one step further by also presenting possible solutions, as well as the solutions currently in testing phases.
Overall, I felt this book was a great introduction to intelligence, breaking the essential elements down into east-to-understand phrasing and terminology without talking down to the reader and without overindulging in the use of the infamous "alphabet soup."
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is amazeing!!!! I love it I have read in three times!!!!
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A useful introduction to a much misunderstood subject April 2 2003
By "top_cat1980" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Silent Warfare is probably the best introductory text available covering the subject of intelligence. It reads like a text book, but that's because it basically IS a textbook. It's a serious academic text rather than a cloak and dagger story. This is one to read for understanding rather than necessarily for pleasure.
The book is fairly short but covers all the bases in terms of types of intelligence, types of intelligence organisation, the various debates surrounding the subject etc. It is, perhaps inevitably, somewhat America-centric. British intelligence and the KGB stick their heads into the picture from time to time, largely to provide illustrative comparisons rather than as studies in themselves.
When making a point, the authors generally try to provide historical examples and comparison, which is helpful, especially for the beginner. It also helps to enliven the text a bit.
The book is extremely well sourced and many of the end notes contain further explanations and are extremely interesting in themselves.
The only thing I feel the book lacks, and this is a fairly minor quibble, is a bibliography. This would have been very useful, especially in what is intended to be an introductory textbook. A bibliographical essay with suggestions for recommended further reading would have been even better.
Quibbles aside, this is a very good primer and to the best of my knowledge there are no books on the market that can compete with it in terms of providing a solid academic introduction to the subject. People with a serious interest in intelligence would be well advised to follow this book up by taking a look at the works of Michael Herman, which provide more in-depth coverage (especially "Intelligence Power in Peace and War") and a non-American (in this case British) angle - though they may be a little heavy for the absolute novice.
To sum up, if you have never read an academic book on intelligence before this is the one to go for.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Introduction to Intelligence Activity Sept. 19 2005
By George Coppedge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Both the authors, Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt, are respected intelligence organization professionals who have taken up university-level teaching and writing. The book is focused on intelligence theory and organization - not on tradecraft. As such, the principal audience of this book would likely be future intelligence policymakers or foreign intelligence organizations trying to gain an insight into US intelligence systems.

The book does a solid job of identifying what intelligence is, how it is collected (humint vs. techint), how it is processed, how it is systematically protected, and what counter-intelligence includes. In addition, it addresses the gray areas of covert action (Is it intelligence or military activity?) and plausible denial. Although much of this discussion could apply to most nations' intelligence bureaus, the authors only explicity describe the American intelligence system.

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the book is the wealth of sources it contains. Many of these are freely and immediately available on the web for all to read. All the footnotes are very thoroughly explained and usually refer to a specific source. The source list itself adds tremendous value to the book by guiding the reader to so many numerous definitive works on intelligence operations.

All in all, this is a solid introduction to intelligence and a great book for pursuing its addition sources.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking About Intelligence Oct. 24 2005
By Retired Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was first published in 1991, but is as current today as it was 14 years ago. This is because the authors have succeeded in conceptualizing intelligence functions and activities in an abstract, but very accurate manner. Although the authors provide a conceptualized view of intelligence, they also provide concrete historical examples to illustrate specific concepts. As a result the reader is given an understanding of intelligence that transcends current trends and practices within the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). The book is an excellent introduction to the discipline of intelligence independent of specific agencies or practices of the IC. For this reason the book should be of interest not only to folks with no background in intelligence, but also to experienced intelligence professionals. One of the biggest obstacles to real intelligence reform in the IC is the inability of reformers to formulate broad concepts of the purposes and functions of intelligence. Reading this book could go a long way in helping them to develop such concepts. As the final chapter of the book suggests, it shows the way to a theory of intelligence.

"Silent Warfare" is the best introduction I have found to the arcane world of intelligence and is an excellent textbook for an introductory course. However, in a utopian world that course would be taught over a year and in its second semester students would read another excellent intelligence text, "Intelligence From Secrets to Policy" by Mark Lowenthal, which moves from the abstract to general, but specific practices and operations of the U.S. IC. The two books compliment each other very well.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great text, BADLY needing an update Dec 27 2009
By Peter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I bought this text a few months ago, having read so many positive reviews on Amazon. While I am not regretting having bought it, I wasn't all too impressed by it. As others have noted, one thing the text does well, is it gives a solid background on what intelligence is and what it is not.

I understand that older books are out of date. I have read and appreciated many of them during my studies. However, for a book whose latest edition came out in 2002 to be this out of touch is laughable. The section about satellites was particularly amusing. It provided a lenghty definition of the term 'resolution', which was obviously aimed at a generation that has never used a home computer. Similarly, the book predicted how the cost of satellite imaging might go down and that it may become more common for smaller states to use it. In this day and age of Google Earth, I literally burst out laughing when reading this section.

There are other sections like this, but these two examples were particularly amusing and memorable.

To sum up, the less timely sections of this text on humint are well worth your time. Similarly, it does give sound definitions of basic terms and the scope of intelligence. Just be warned that you'll have to really bite your lip when reading some of the chapters on 'technology'.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Intelligence Dec 4 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a whole, the American public is often unaware of the important role which intelligence collection and analysis plays within the development of national security policy; Silent Warfare provides an excellent introduction to this role. While not patronizing the reader, Shulsky and Schmitt have managed to break intelligence down into its basic components, explaining the theories and experiences through easy-to-understand historical contexts. They explain the differences between technical intelligence, human intelligence, and open source intelligence; they also explain the often overlooked role of covert operations within the confines of intelligence and national security policy.
While dealing with such a touchy subject, Shulsky and Schmitt are also careful not to gloss over the short comings of the intelligence community. Within Silent Warfare, they touch on issues such as the "not built here" syndrome, as well as the American tendency to project American values on other populations which may -- or may not -- see things the way we do. They take these criticisms one step further by also presenting possible solutions, as well as the solutions currently in testing phases.
Overall, I felt this book was a great introduction to intelligence, breaking the essential elements down into east-to-understand phrasing and terminology without talking down to the reader and without overindulging in the use of the infamous "alphabet soup."
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