Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Intelligence Book Review - Presidents' Secret Wars by John Prados

In the current era of asymmetric warfare, accurate and timely intelligence is of increasing significance. Likewise, the nation’s leaders often employ non-kinetic methods or irregular forces to achieve national security objectives. John Prados introduces this world in Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations from World War II through the Persian Gulf.

The view Prados provides spans from the strategic, such as making plans and policy in the Oval Office, to the tactical, such as describing special operations forces’ action in the U.S. invasion of Grenada. The book covers the subject thoroughly, providing insight and details into many U.S. covert operations. It highlights how each presidential administration employs intelligence and particularly the relationship between the president and the director of central intelligence. Also notable are Prados’ descriptions of the Bay of Pigs invasion and operations in Laos in the chapter entitled, “The High Plateau.”

This book should be in the hand of any student who is delving into the world of covert operations for the first time and on the shelf of anyone who studies intelligence as an enduring reference.