From the earliest times, commanders have sought knowledge of the enemy, his strengths and weaknesses, his dispositions and intentions.
But how much effect, in the 'real time' of a battle or a campaign, can this knowledge have?
In this magisterial new study, the author of A History of Warfare goes to the heart of a series of important conflicts to develop a powerful argument about intelligence in war.
Keegan's narrative sweep is enthralling, whether portraying the dilemmas of Nelson seeking Napoleon's fleet, Stonewall Jackson in the American Civil War, Bletchley as it seeks to crack Ultra during the Battle of the Atlantic, the realities of the secret war in the Falklands or the numerous intelligence issues in the contemporary fight against terrorism.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 464 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 07/10/2004
- Category: Warfare & defence
- ISBN: 9780712666503
- EPUB from £7.99
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Review by thorold
I'd broadly agree with the review by ben_a -- this isn't Keegan at his best, and whilst the central argument ("intelligence is useful, but can't be decisive in itself") is well-presented, there's a lot of padding in the case studies. Some of the chapters show evidence of recycling of material that he has used elsewhere -- there are sloppy edits, and unusual amounts of repetition within the chapters. The chapter on the V1 and V2 programme, in particular, looks very cobbled-together, and seems to go round in circles a few times.It also looks as though the sub-title ("...from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda"), presumably imposed by the publisher, has pushed Keegan into writing speculatively about the "war on terror", a role he clearly isn't very comfortable with. (To add insult to injury, I discovered, far too late to think about returning it, that my copy had been bound with two copies of the second set of plates and none of the first set!)It's probably worth reading this book as an antidote to the romantic idea of espionage as a war-winning activity, but it's a shame the author wasn't given time to do the job properly.