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Intelligence In War


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

About the Author

John Keegan is the Defence Editor of the Daily Telegraph and Britain's foremost military historian. The Reith Lecturer in 1998, he is the author of many bestselling books including The Face of Battle, Six Armies in Normandy, Battle at Sea, The Second World War, A History of Warfare (awarded the Duff Cooper Prize), Warpaths, The Battle for History, The First World War, and most recently, Intelligence in War. For many years John Keegan was the Senior Lecturer in Military History at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and he has been a Fellow of Princeton University and Delmas Distinguished Professor of History at Vassar. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He received the OBE in the Gulf War honours list, and was knighted in the Millennium honours list in 1999. John Keegan died in August 2012.


According to Keegan (The First World War), there is a good reason why "military intelligence" is so often described as an oxymoron: inflicting and enduring destruction often has no room for reflection, just retaliation. But retaliation tends toward attrition, and attrition is expensive; thought, for Keegan, offers a means of reducing war's price, taking commanders and armies inside enemy decision-action loops, helping identify enemy weakness, warning of enemy intentions or disclosing enemy strategy. Keegan offers a series of case studies in the operational significance of intelligence, ranging from Admiral Nelson's successful pursuit of the French fleet in 1805, through Stonewall Jackson's possession of detailed local knowledge in his 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign, to the employment of electronic intelligence in the naval operations of WWI and its extension and refinement during WWII. For that conflict, Keegan expands his analysis, discussing intelligence aspects of the German invasion of Crete, the U.S. victory at Midway and the defeat of the U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic. To balance an account heavily focused on technology, he incorporates a chapter on the importance of human intelligence in providing information on the Nazi V-weapons. Keegan concludes with a discussion of post-1945 military intelligence that stresses the difference between a Cold War in which the central targets of intelligence gathering were susceptible to concrete, scientific methods, and more recent targets that, lacking form and organization, require penetration through understanding. That paradigm shift in turn is part of Keegan's general argument that intelligence data does not guarantee success. This book shows that the British need not have lost on Crete; that the American victory at Midway was not predetermined. At a time when armed forces tout the "information revolution," Keegan writes in the belief that the outcomes of war are ultimately the result of fighting. (Nov. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Noted military historian Keegan (The Face of Battle; The Mask of Command) examines several military campaigns to show how intelligence affected the outcome. Admiral Nelson had to chase Napoleon to Egypt with few intelligence resources yet achieved a great naval victory. Gen. Stonewall Jackson's local knowledge enabled him to beat superior Union forces consistently in the Shenandoah valley. At Midway the U.S. Navy had the intelligence advantage, but the outcome still depended on chance. Use of human resources proved most important in the Allied campaign against Hitler's vengeance weapons. The British defeat at Crete and the Falklands War are also analyzed. As Keegan persuasively shows, the keystone to victory was not formal military intelligence but the human factor. Intelligence organizations are now dominated by huge technical systems with lots of expensive equipment, but timeliness, completeness, effective evaluation of the material, and proper use of the knowledge gained are always vital. Only the application of sufficient force, not the quantity of intelligence data, can lead to success. Suitable for all military history collections. (Maps and illustrations not seen.)-Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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 *

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