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The Rise and Fall of Intelligence

An International Security History

Michael Warner

Publication Year: 2014

This sweeping history of the development of professional, institutionalized intelligence examines the implications of the fall of the state monopoly on espionage today and beyond.

During the Cold War, only the alliances clustered around the two superpowers maintained viable intelligence endeavors, whereas a century ago, many states could aspire to be competitive at these dark arts. Today, larger states have lost their monopoly on intelligence skills and capabilities as technological and sociopolitical changes have made it possible for private organizations and even individuals to unearth secrets and influence global events.

Historian Michael Warner addresses the birth of professional intelligence in Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century and the subsequent rise of US intelligence during the Cold War. He brings this history up to the present day as intelligence agencies used the struggle against terrorism and the digital revolution to improve capabilities in the 2000s. Throughout, the book examines how states and other entities use intelligence to create, exploit, and protect secret advantages against others, and emphasizes how technological advancement and ideological competition drive intelligence, improving its techniques and creating a need for intelligence and counterintelligence activities to serve and protect policymakers and commanders.

The world changes intelligence and intelligence changes the world. This sweeping history of espionage and intelligence will be a welcomed by practitioners, students, and scholars of security studies, international affairs, and intelligence, as well as general audiences interested in the evolution of espionage and technology.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book represents the product of two decades of reading, writing, and teaching intelligence. Those efforts shaped me in many ways, changing my outlook on recent and ancient history. I felt a need to make sense of what I was seeing, and to do so in a way that others could...

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pp. xi-xii

The prepublication review staffs of US Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence all reviewed this work for potential security concerns. CIA’s reviewers asked me to note that all statements...


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pp. xiii-xvi


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pp. xvii-xviii

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pp. 1-10

This book shows how the world changed intelligence and how intelligence changed the world. A century ago, almost any state, large or small, could be competitive at espionage. Fifty years ago only the Cold War alliances clustered around the two superpowers could run credible...

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1. From Ancient to Modern

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pp. 11-38

Spying dates to the dawn of civilization, but in the past two centuries it has taken on a new character. In short, it has been professionalized. That evolution began in Europe in the last half of the nineteenth century, and the factors that drove it were overwhelmingly technological and...

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2. A Revolutionary Age

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pp. 39-78

In the days of Napoleon or George Washington, a commander, or even a head of state, could essentially run his own spy network. Not much had altered that possibility since the time of Sunzi and Kautilya, but that was about to change forever. Napoleon lost at Waterloo in 1815 and never...

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3. As Good as It Gets

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pp. 79-130

The First World War had hardly ended before all the combatants started preparing for the sequel. The Great War unleashed national and ideological passions and destabilized entire economies and social orders. France’s greatest soldier, Ferdinand Foch, prophetically quipped after the...

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4. Cold War: Technology

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pp. 131-172

By the end of World War II, two intelligence systems capable of functioning on a global basis had come into existence. One intelligence system was the sword and shield of a Communist state that possessed a massive army but had suffered horrendous wounds in the war. The other...

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5. Cold War: Ideology

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pp. 173-226

The Cold War between communism and liberalism that had recessed in 1941 resumed again at the close of World War II. The power relations between the sides, however, had changed. Both soon had atomic weapons, making them strong enough to resist a direct military challenge even...

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6. The Liberal Triumph?

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pp. 227-279

The 1980s saw something brief but unprecedented: a period in which the leader of one superpower and the vice president of the other were former chiefs of their respective nations’ key intelligence services. Yuri Andropov had headed the KGB for longer than anyone before him, before...

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7. The Shadow War

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pp. 280-332

The world changed on a clear American morning in September 2001. Operatives dispatched by a Saudi expatriate named Osama bin Ladin mounted simultaneous attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, showing that a handful of extremists with audacity and...

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Conclusion: Intelligence All around Us

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pp. 333-340

CIA officers in Moscow in the 1980s knew their every move could be watched. They also knew that the consequences of being caught in an operation could be arrest and scandal; for the assets they met, moreover, it could mean death. In the second decade of the twenty-first century...

Works Cited

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pp. 341-380


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pp. 381-406

E-ISBN-13: 9781626160477
E-ISBN-10: 1626160473

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 14 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2014