Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda

Front Cover
Random House Large Print, 2003 - History - 704 pages
48 Reviews
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.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda

User Review  - Rebecca Yin - Goodreads

Intelligence in War, written by John Keegan, is supposedly a research book discussing predictably, the usage and efficacy of intelligence in winning wars. However, though Keegan speaks extensively on ... Read full review

Review: Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda

User Review  - Patrick - Goodreads

A book with a simple thesis, so simple that is almost went without saying. Unfortunately, Keegan's writing ability does not shine here, with the chapter on the battle of Midway being a lone source of light in an otherwise dreary slog. Read full review

All 24 reviews »


Knowledge of the Enemy
Chasing Napoleon

8 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

John Keegan’s books include The First World War, The Battle for History, The Face of Battle, War and Our World, The Mask of Command, Fields of Battle and A History of Warfare. He is the defense editor of The Daily Telegraph (London). He lives in Wiltshire, England.

Bibliographic information