Henry A. Crumpton: The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA Clandestine Service

Summary Information:

Edition: Hardcover

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Page Count: 338

Brief Thoughts:

An impressionably bold and impassioned¬†look at the role of intelligence from the turn of the 20th century, through the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and to the future of the 21st century. Crumpton writes from an experienced and learned perspective, and he doesn’t fall into the trap of simply writing an anecdotally engaging but strategically vapid memoir.

The book’s main triumph is its analysis of nonstate actors and asymmetrical conflict. Crumpton doesn’t hold back in his criticism of the more archaic 20th-century governance, military and intelligence structures that in many ways still pervade, and he also is equally cognizant of his own areas of weakness (although as his career builds outside of just the Clandestine Service and into NR and his Ambassador-at-Large rank, those weaknesses began to minimize).

Outside of the book’s academic and intellectual value, it was just flat-out-entertaining. There is an honorable directness to it; Crumpton says what he thinks about senior officials he disagreed with, doesn’t overly glamorize the service, and might have a future in comedy if he needs to supplement his day-job.