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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (524 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Keegan Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2003 ISBN: 9780739304662
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In fiction, the spy is a glamorous figure whose secrets make or break peace, but, historically, has intelligence really been a vital step to military victories? In this breakthrough study, the preeminent war historian John Keegan goes to the heart of a series of important conflicts to develop a powerful argument about military intelligence.

In his characteristically wry and perceptive prose, Keegan offers us nothing short of a new history of war through the prism of intelligence. He brings to life the split-second decisions that went into waging war before the benefit of aerial surveillance and electronic communications. The English admiral Horatio Nelson was hot on the heels of Napoleon’s fleet in the Mediterranean and never knew it, while Stonewall Jackson was able to compensate for the Confederacy’s disadvantage in firearms and manpower with detailed maps of the Appalachians. In the past century, espionage and decryption have changed the face of battle: the Japanese surprise attack at the Battle of the Midway was thwarted by an early warning. Timely information, however, is only the beginning of the surprising and disturbing aspects of decisions that are made in war, where brute force is often more critical.

Intelligence in War is a thought-provoking work that ranks among John Keegan’s finest achievements.


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Quotes & Awards

  • [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. National Post
  • 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

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MS | 2/16/2014

    " really fun if you like military history. keegan is dry but nobody understands this stuff better. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Harmony | 2/8/2014

    " This book had so much potential but fell on its face for me. It was hard to stay captivated about a topic I find myself very interested in. I did pick up quite a bit, especially about the true nature of intelligence in WWII. Unfortuantely, it was difficult to really focus on all the details. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adam West | 1/31/2014

    " Very interesting book. I've enjoyed everything from John Keegan thusfar, and I think one of my favorite aspects of military science is military intelligence. He who knows more, has so much the advantage over his enemy. Keegan does an excellent job of explaining how simply holding knowledge of the enemy is not enough unless it is included in the strategic, operational, and tactical planning procedures and measures are taken to make use of said knowledge. I would like to work in Military Intelligence once I commission, and this book only made me more excited to do that. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joseph | 1/28/2014

    " Excellent account of some of the most notable examples in history of the trade. Conclusions about the field made at the very end were in my opinion off target, but overall a great book if you want to learn about the history and importance of intelligence in war. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel | 1/12/2014

    " I like John Keegan's style-- he manages to pack a lot of information in while still making it interesting. In this book, he basically makes the argument that intelligence gathering for military purposes makes very little difference in armed conflict. Instead, tactics, firepower, and luck are more dominating factors. I was skeptical of his argument at first, but I think he makes a pretty good case. Even so, I'm not fully convinced. Nobody likes going into battle blind, and knowing something about your enemy is always preferred over knowing nothing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 William | 1/9/2014

    " Keegan can be tedious in detail at times but never fails to make creative and masterful conclusions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dr. | 1/7/2014

    " Really good analysis of military intelligence throughout time using a lot of historical examples. Good, but not quite as exciting as his others, when I think about it I can hardly remember any specifics. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vance | 1/5/2014

    " For all those who hold that all we need is better intelligence. This is a real paradigm shift. Keegan's historical expertise shows eloquently why it's just not that simple. A must read for anyone in the intelligence fields, military or decision making politic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 djcb | 12/29/2013

    " Keegan's book on intelligence (i.e. spies etc.) in war. Lots of interesting stories -- but the final conclusion is that intelligence is important, but not as important as is often thought. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Liz | 12/29/2013

    " I gave up on this book in the middle of the chapter about the Shenandoah valley campaign. Just didn't give a rotund rodent's rump about the back and forths involved in it-- the minutiae of a military campaign held no interest for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Del Simmons | 12/5/2013

    " An interesting read about the art of war-time spying and how it can impact the outcome of a conflict. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nathan | 11/24/2013

    " It wasn't bad, but not as much detail on intelligence as I would have liked. That said, it did have some interesting stories and John Keegan is a great writer of military history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Derrick | 11/11/2013

    " Anything by John Keegan is great history. He's the best military historian around in my opinion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tyler Standish | 7/10/2013

    " A great book that firmly demonstrates the advantages and limitations of good intelligence in war. I recommend this to anyone. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Corey | 4/26/2013

    " Probably my least favorite Keegan book. It never really had a cohesive thread, it was just a collection of histories of famous examples of intelligence being used effectively in war. The best was the Falklands War chapter, which I knew very little about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Stearns | 1/13/2013

    " Great 360 degree look into the use of intelligence in wartime throughout history. A great read through the many different eras of intelligence's successes and failures. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danilo Senese | 9/5/2012

    " Very interesting analysis of HUMINT's role in war and a much recommended reflection on what will it be in the modern day conflicts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jon Box | 7/18/2012

    " Good, interesting read--I particulary enjoyed his discussion of Nelson's chase for Napoleon. Great assessment of just how useful or insignificant intelligence can be in battle and war . . . "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hans | 4/2/2012

    " How small but crucial information has swung the tides of history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 TK Keanini | 11/22/2011

    " I found it interesting. It offers very broad coverage of what should be called Counter-Intelligence. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sy De Witt | 11/3/2011

    " The author focused on a number of military campaigns, beginning with Admiral Nelson's fleet chasing and seeking Napoleon Bonaparte's fleet in Egypt and eventually destroying it. The focus of all the campaigns Keegan studies and writes about is the impact of intelligence. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Corey | 1/27/2011

    " Probably my least favorite Keegan book. It never really had a cohesive thread, it was just a collection of histories of famous examples of intelligence being used effectively in war. The best was the Falklands War chapter, which I knew very little about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tyler | 1/11/2011

    " A great book that firmly demonstrates the advantages and limitations of good intelligence in war. I recommend this to anyone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joseph | 9/30/2010

    " Excellent account of some of the most notable examples in history of the trade. Conclusions about the field made at the very end were in my opinion off target, but overall a great book if you want to learn about the history and importance of intelligence in war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 2/2/2010

    " Great 360 degree look into the use of intelligence in wartime throughout history. A great read through the many different eras of intelligence's successes and failures. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dr. | 8/26/2009

    " Really good analysis of military intelligence throughout time using a lot of historical examples. Good, but not quite as exciting as his others, when I think about it I can hardly remember any specifics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 William | 4/26/2009

    " Keegan can be tedious in detail at times but never fails to make creative and masterful conclusions. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vance | 10/14/2008

    " For all those who hold that all we need is better intelligence. This is a real paradigm shift. Keegan's historical expertise shows eloquently why it's just not that simple. A must read for anyone in the intelligence fields, military or decision making politic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Liz | 8/20/2008

    " I gave up on this book in the middle of the chapter about the Shenandoah valley campaign. Just didn't give a rotund rodent's rump about the back and forths involved in it-- the minutiae of a military campaign held no interest for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Derrick | 6/27/2008

    " Anything by John Keegan is great history. He's the best military historian around in my opinion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hans | 5/22/2008

    " How small but crucial information has swung the tides of history. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Harmony | 3/11/2008

    " This book had so much potential but fell on its face for me. It was hard to stay captivated about a topic I find myself very interested in. I did pick up quite a bit, especially about the true nature of intelligence in WWII. Unfortuantely, it was difficult to really focus on all the details. "

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About the Author
Author John Keegan

John Keegan is the defense editor of the Daily Telegraph (London) and Britain’s foremost military historian. He is the author of many bestselling books, including The First World War, Intelligence in War, and The Battle for History. He lives in Wiltshire, England.

About the Narrator

Simon Prebble, a British-born performer, is a stage and television actor and veteran narrator of some three hundred audiobooks. As one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices, he has received over twenty Earphones Awards and won the prestigious Audie in 2010. He lives in New York.