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Learning from the Secret Past: Cases in British Intelligence History Paperback – Nov 4 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Georgetown Univ Pr (Nov. 4 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589017706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589017702
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2 x 22.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,347,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


The range of documents throughout the volume is impressive, including a parliamentary debate, Joint Intelligence Committee reports, a transcription of a secret meeting between agents and a military directive. By integrating these fascinating sources with perceptive historical analysis, this book makes a strong case for the desirability of studying the past. International Affairs This is a book that any serious student of British intelligence activity will want to read and read again. British Politics Group Newsletter Dover and Goodman have made a substantial and timely contribution to the American and British intelligence communities on aspects of the importance of creating a process to identify lessons learned, similar to the process used by the military, in spite of the difficulty of drawing lessons from intelligence because most successes go unreported due to the nature of the trade, and failures are analyzed by outsiders who must judge what they are not allowed to observe. International Journal of Intelligence Ethics

About the Author

Robert Dover is a senior lecturer in international relations at Loughborough University (UK) and the author of "The Europeanization of British Defence Policy, 1997-2005."

Michael S. Goodman is a senior lecturer in the Department of War Studies at King's College London, official historian of the Joint Intelligence Committee (UK), and author of "Spying on the Nuclear Bear: Anglo-American Intelligence and the Soviet Bomb."

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Academic Case Histories June 19 2013
By Carlo - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found the marketing description on Amazon for this book to be rather misleading, as it implied that actual intelligence operations were going to be discussed and analyzed. In reality, the book is structured around the somewhat novel approach of including a declassified historical document in each chapter/article (written by different authors) as the centerpiece for a broader academic discussion of the selected topic. All of the chapters are thus treated in an academic fashion, although some authors write more engagingly than others.

As long as the reader's expectations are properly adjusted, the book does have a reasonable amount of value to both foreign affairs practitioners and academics. Chapters that stood out for me included "Intelligence and Counterinsurgency: The Malayan Experience" by Matthew Jones, an in-depth treatment of how intelligence was central to the campaign; "'A Skeleton in Our Cupboard': British Interrogation Procedures in Northern Ireland" by Richard Aldrich, obviously very relevant for today's world and showing convincingly that these types of issues are timeless; and "The Value and Limits of Experience in the Early Years of the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1969-1972" by Eunan O'Halpin, which was perhaps the most entertainingly written in terms of prose and also highlighted the reality of ignorance and human limitations in decision-making.

Before purchasing this I would recommending checking the table of contents to make sure that it matches your interests. Otherwise, I can say it does offer some real insights into all of the topics treated. The declassified documents in the Kindle edition were readable, although not comfortably so for the most part.