An Intelligence Professional’s Reading List
Every few years many senior military leaders publish a reading list. These lists generally contain works on history and leadership with a sprinkling of business management. Books that either personally shaped their development as leaders or are a good read for someone’s professional development. While these lists are great as a primer on leadership very few focus on the Intelligence profession.
What follows is an attempt to fill that knowledge gap. This reading list is comprised of recommendations from members of the INTELST forum, a group of almost 4000 current and former Military Intelligence professionals. The books identified below helped to shape these professionals into expert intelligence analysts. These books cover a wide range of topics, from intelligence operations, to military history, leadership, sociology and psychology. While the list is comprised of mostly non-fiction there are a few fiction books. One of these fiction books, Ghost Fleet, was nominated more than any other book on the list.
T. Kessara Eldridge – President Virtual Intelligence Agency (VIA) Consulting
Former director of the National Security Agency provides insights on how intelligence operations need to adapt to be more effective in the post 9/11 age.
Based on analysis of Soviet communications in the 1940s, this book describes how Soviet spies were able to get American nuclear secrets.
A potential companion book to General Odom’s. This book examines how U.S. intelligence agencies have changed since the Cold War.
A compilation of essays on counterterrorism strategies by the Terrorism Research Center.
Major Kevin Halleran – U.S. Army North G2X
Originally published in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s for internal use within the CIA, Heurer compiled information on how people make judgements tied to improper analysis and how not to fall into cognitive traps. His book is a must have on any reading list on intelligence.
Two books in Taleb’s series on the subjects of things that happen in the world that on first look seem to happen unpredictably but if you look deeper clues that predict these events can be found.
Dr. James B. Ellsworth C.P.T. Ph.D. – Retired Senior Executive, Army Intelligence, longtime War College professor, and Charter Life Member, MI Corps Association
A collection of essays on surprise and deception and how that effects intelligence analysis.
A collection of essays on the study of intelligence.
A recently declassified book written in 1968 on the fundamentals of intelligence analysis. Garbo provides insights that are as true today as they were almost 50 years ago.
A collection of essays on intelligence operations at the strategic level focusing on the impacts of technology and other aspects on intelligence analysis.
Lieutenant Colonel (R) Collin Agee former MNF-I Deputy J2
The best fictional depiction of a future conflict since Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising. An analysist will be hard pressed to provide indications and warnings if they don’t know what a future conflict might look like.
Technology is changing war an analyst needs to know how to provide insights on future conflicts.
With the rise in cyber-attacks by countries like Russia and North Korea an understanding future technology is important to an intelligence professional.
Written in the 1930s this book takes a fictional look at a bleak future world where technology is more harm than help. A story that is even more relevant now than when it was written.
Another fictional look into the future and how a small insurgency fought the power elite.
Written by MG Dunlap when he was a student at the National War College, this novella depiction of successful military coup in the in United States.
Daniel Pass – Adjunct Professor – Pacific Lutheran University
A memoir of a Cold War KGB General who oversaw spies that worked in the United States.
A history of secret codes, writings, and ciphers and how they were broken.
Mark Haselden – Principal Systems Engineer, DHS Intelligence and Analysis, Collection Division
Two additional books by Michael I Handel on Military Intelligence Operations
Authored by a former British intelligence officer this book provides an understanding in to UK and US intelligence analytical frameworks.
A collection of 17 essays on SOE in World War II written as a way to honor Professor M.R.D. Foot who has been recognized as a leading authority on the subject.
Written by a member of the British Air Ministry’s Intelligence section during World War II, it’s an inside look on British intelligence operations during the war.
Just three of many offerings from Christopher Andrew one of the more prolific authors on the subject of intelligence particularly the KGB and Soviet operations.
A collection of declassified documents on the birth of the CIA during President Truman’s administration.
Warner and Benson, former Intelligence officers, provide an inside account of the successful breaking of KGB codes during the Cold War.
Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Webb – EUCOM J2X, Intelligence Oversight
Steve Coll explains the events leading up to September 11 2001 and how the CIA’s involvement against the Soviets in Afghanistan effected future events.
The history of the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. A good companion read to Ghost Wars.
The Russian/Afghan war from the perspective of both sides of the fight
Major Shad Lancaster – USAOG
An insider’s examination of the role of the military in today’s world.
Captain Ivan Ong – S2 351st ASB
John Keegan takes an in-depth look at how intelligence in wartime has changed throughout history
Thomas provides a look at an S2’s roles and responsibilities in an infantry battalion during World War I
Former Army Officer Anne Jones
The true story of a North Korean pilot who stole a MiG-15 during the Korean War and handed it over to the Americans.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 (R) David Slyman
The story of Jordanian al-Qaeda operative Humam Khalil al-Balawi who killed seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan
Christopher Hilliard – Instructor at the US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence
The story of Homer Atkins who’s lack of cultural understanding and arrogance destroys American foreign policy efforts.
Discussion on the scientific research on how to be a more effective influencer.
An in-depth examination of Napoleon’s Grand Army.
An in-depth analysis of Carthage’s victory over Rome at Cannae in 216 B.C.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 (R) Wally Price
Ms. Wohlstetters' book examines the intelligence collected, analyzed, and disseminated (and not disseminated) prior to the Japanese attack in 1941.
Mr. Wirtz, examined the intelligence production, conclusions and operations in MACV leading up to the combined VC/NVA offensive in 1968.
Mr. Aid chronicles the origins and evolution of NSA from its military predecessor organizations to operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
An Anonymous Former Brigade S2
No other work describes the left/right limits within the Army profession of ethics and morality. Key plot points evolve around intelligence and the commander's decision based on that intelligence, whether for good or bad.
This book is a strong proponent of open source methods, the need to share, and winning the decision-making cycle at the tactical level.
This book describes COL Herrington's work as an intelligence adviser to a South Vietnamese unit at the provincial level.
Much of the processes/systems described by Chandler in running a BN/BDE S2 were pertinent in WWII, as well as during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A good work depicting the combined arms team in high-intensity combat arms operations at either the company/team or battalion/squadron/taskforce level respectively.
Lieutenant Colonel (R) Stephen H. Franke – Former US Army Middle East Foreign Area Officer
An in-depth analysis of Soviet advisors and counterinsurgency operations during their occupation of Afghanistan.
The background and work of the 12 Apostles and their clandestine network as well as COL Eddy's later involvement in promoting US interests and increased presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Lieutenant Colonel James B. Cogbill – Deputy G2, XVIII Airborne Corps
The recent history of cyber warfare, from the founding of ARPANET in 1967, to more current events like the North Korean hacking of Sony Pictures, the Snowden leaks, and Russian denial of service attacks in Estonia and Georgia.
Ted Baggson – Global Security Intelligence Manager at The Macquarie Group
An in-depth look at the causes of conflict.
Part of the A. Denis Clift series on the intelligence profession.
An in-depth analysis of Red Teams and their ability to affect change within an organization.
Sixteen essays on the intelligence assessments of the countries involved in World War II.
The Counterintelligence exploits of Lt. Col Oreste Pinto a Dutch intelligence expert that worked for the British prior to and during World War II.
Chris Hamilton – Former Senior Analyst COMSOCEUR
Biography of one the Army’s most controversial general officers.
An in-depth look at the people who have shaped the rise of China, India and the Muslim World
The history of the KGB from its origins during the Russian Revolution to up to 1990.
An insider’s view of decisions that influenced the Iraq war
History of the rise of ISIS through accounts from CIA and Jordanian sources
Written from the perspective of someone that has spent over 25 years covering events in Afghanistan. Gall provides a look at both the war broadly and personally.
A detailed account of German intelligence operations during World War II
Kaplan explores how terrain and climate effect global and regional conflicts.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Doty – Professor of Military Science, University of Texas at Arlington
A study of the insurgency and counterinsurgency efforts in the Vietnam conflict at a provincial level.
A study of the US Army’s 9th Infantry Division operations in Vietnam from 1968-70 and why their operations were effective, focusing on the use of analysis in those operations.
Written prior to WWII, argues for Intel officers to brief threat capabilities instead of intentions.
A British infantry officer’s firsthand account of war in Afghanistan.
Fulton Wilcox – Colts Neck Solutions LLC
The article attempts to explain why senior policy makers so often disregard good intelligence.
Major James King – Executive Officer 312th Military Intelligence Battalion
Memoir of Oscar Koch General Patton’s G2 during World War II who was one of the only people to see the indicators of the German offensive that became the Battle of the Bulge.
Written from the perspective of the battalion S2. Krohn provides insights into what went wrong and what lessons were learned after his battalion was surrounded during the Tet offensive.
Four future directors of the CIA, Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, William Colby, and William Casey all worked for OSS director William Donavan during World War II.
Past is prologue as tensions continue to rise on the peninsula it’s a good idea to look back at how the first Korean War was fought.
John Prados looks at intelligence operations from the inception of the CIA through Desert Storm.