In this latest work, Keegan has not set out to debunk intelligence. Rather he has sought to place the clandestine underbelly of war in perspective, to wrest it from the popular imagination as some sort of entertaining shortcut to victory. In the end, as he puts it, ''It is force, not fraud or forethought, that counts.'' Whatever its truth, the roots of this conviction are not hard to divine. Keegan came to military history well before he came to military intelligence, and he understands all too well the barbarous physical reality of war as contrasted to the largely cerebral battlefields of intelligence warriors. To John Keegan, warfare has always been far more blood and guts than cloak and dagger.
Joseph E. Persico
Keegan has a gift for narrative, and he is a master of his material. It is the big wars of history that interest him, with their classic encounters of big armies deciding the fate of nations -- especially World War II, which he seems to know as if he had himself fought in every theater. His tales are well-chosen, told with economy and filled with dramatic incident. The argument is temperate, reasonable and always raises questions of importance even where I find myself resisting Keegan's conclusions.
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.
[Keegan] brings to the literature of war a deep affection for revealing details, and it’s clear that he loves to be surprised by what he learns. His pleasure animates the material for his readers.”
“Keegan has not set out to debunk intelligence. Rather he has sought to place the clandestine underbelly of war in perspective, to wrest it from the popular imagination as some sort of entertaining shortcut to victory.”
—The New York Times
“Read Keegan’s Intelligence in War for its wonderful narration and genuine insights into the details of intelligence operations.”
—The Globe and Mail