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A Spy's Guide to Thinking

(A Spy's Guide to #1)

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  7,526 ratings  ·  473 reviews
"Head wounds bleed. All those vessels going to the brain. Carrying nutrients so you can think. Which I hadn’t . . . I was stunned. But I hadn’t lost yet. I still had the phone. And two options."

There are a select few people who get things done. Spies are first among them.

In a 45 minute read, a former spy introduces two simple tools for thinking. The first describes how
Kindle Edition, 43 pages
Published May 31st 2015
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Wil Wheaton
Nov 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
There's a moderately interesting story in here, about how the author handles a potentially violent encounter on a subway. He wants to show us how he uses a particular type of thinking to make his decisions during the encounter.

And then he spends a whole chapter of an already short book relitigating the goddamn bogus WMD claims that were used to justify the Iraq war. (Spoiler alert: It wasn't the CIA's fault! No! Really! USA! USA!)

This ... whatever this is because it isn't a book ... could be an
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Either it's me or it's too simplistic. Whatever... Lot's of obvious things, little depth.
Intelligence agencies start with the decision. Like scientists start with the hypothesis. (c) It's called cherry-picking.
Thinking is cheap. Action is expensive. (c)
The Data-Analysis-Decision-Action chain helps us focus on where we might have holes in our thinking. (c)
The best way to win a zero-sum game is to be good at positive-sum games. (c)
Amir Tesla
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
The subject
Spy's Guide to thinking offers a framework for effective thinking which is based on experiences of a field spy "John Braddock". I guess this is the guy who convinced white house of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, hence igniting the war.

The book
The book is organized in four concise chapters:

I. How to think
II. What to think about
III. How others think
IV. How to think about others

How to think
Author teaches the structure of effective thinking which is the foundation of de
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting reading. Free if you have Amazon Prime. Not a lot of actual spy information but it's obvious the author is knowledgeable on the subject either by study or by actual employment as a spy. What if found the most interesting is the critical thinking steps the author details. Easily something the average person could employ in everyday life.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No wonder it is trending on Goodreads. Short and Sharp. A must read.
I guess what he has written is pretty obvious but it is the way he has chosen to write the book that keeps you hooked.
The DADA and the three games. Awesome.
Reading this book only confirmed my hypothesis that my thinking sucks and needs work :p
Karol Gajda
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was well-written (using an interesting back-and-forth literary device) and fun. A book about thinking, zero-sum, negative-sum, and positive-sum games, told through the eyes of a former CIA agent.

"How you play all the other games depends on what kind of game is the final game."
philip farah
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Lacks depth, volume

Lessons and insights are shallow. Light content. Written as a stream of consciousness. Topic is intriguing however content is poor. Book is more of a chapter than it is a book
Lukas Lovas
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting point of view. The thing I most took from this book is, that some people overthink things. Not a bad thing, but if you're not trained to think fast, you'll end up being a passive observer in most situations, if you try to adapt this approach.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: how-to, psychology
The 45 minute read could have been condensed to 45 words. Or less. A lot less. Most of the text was devoted to a self-congratulatory experience with a tweaker on a train trying to snag the author's phone. I think it was supposed to illustrate how well his DADA system of thinking works, except that it didn't. He was surprised several times when the druggie didn't conform to his expectations (go figure). This is the only work I've read by Braddock, so I don't know if any of the others hold any val ...more
Sarah Booth
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok

Could have been boiled down to 5 pages. The repetition of the data analysis decision action and the three types of games zero sum, positive and negative hardly needed to be broken down into such a way that made it understandable to a three year old. Had perhaps more of these ideas been strong together on a longer book with a good editor who knows how to tell a writer he's talking down to his audience would help. N
Jake Losh
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, crime
I liked it. Extra star for not being longer than it has to be. Best explanation of DADA/OODA loops I've seen so far that isn't packed with bloat.

Edit: I'd offer that reviewers hating on the "politics" tangentially offered by the author's personal/professional opinions on, e.g., the Iraq war, seem to be suffering from mood affiliation. They're not actually important to understanding the real messages of the book anyway. Feel free to ignore them, if it better suits your world view.
Kaj Sotala
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Much more examples would have been nice, but it was a nice read for its length and price. I had previously heard about the concept of the OODA loop, and the idea that the person who goes through the loop faster wins, but been unsure of how to apply it. This helped clarify that.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it
A short book that offers you a simple framework for thinking with a story.
You could find both, better explained, on the internet.
No need to read this one.
Ryan Alsaihaty
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Guide to thinking:

collect DATA >> perform ANALYSIS >> make DECISION >> take ACTION

Only if this is not obvious to you, go ahead and read this book.
Conrad Zero
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was looking for some interesting spy-think for a story I'm writing. But this book is a blog post at best. It loosely and lightly covers the DADA process (Data->Analysis->Decision->Action) and the different game theories of zero, positive and negative sum games. And that's about it.

If this guy really was a spy, there would be a dozen situations/stories where his thinking would have saved the day. But there's only one example, and it does not reflect positively on our supposed spy-author's thoug
Nice 45 minute (longer if you ponderize processes) Kindle Single nonfiction topic read on methods of thinking, decision making, and finding answers/information. Turns a very academic explanation of DADA, the OODA loop, scientific method, game sum theory, and etcetera, which other wise could possibly be intellectually dry and long and instead wraps the lessons around an exciting suspenseful dangerous real life CIA field work day anecdote in a Kindle Single size small package.

Source: Amazon Prime
R. F. Errant
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I got at least three useful points from reading this, which considering the cost and time to read it, is a good value.

My problem with the book is that his main example does not validate his teaching. In fact, they appear to invalidate them. If the example is the best of his personal experience, which is suggested, you have to wonder if he successfully applied his ideas in real life.

But before I am too hard on the author, I could make the same criticism of Plat0, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, all of w
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Poorly written and nearly useless.
Jamie Yu
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
To me, this just felt like it was lacking in content??? Would have been an interesting short article in a magazine to read while waiting at the optometrist's, but I felt like I gained nothing from reading this. It was interesting in jumping back and forth between the scene on the train and the processes of thinking but it really did not engage me or give me insight to a spy's mind, as the blurb promised. Can't pinpoint anything particularly bad about this but it's very easily forgettable I doubt ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it

I like books that give me the inside look in how things work. I might be interested in reading the next one.
Tania C-L
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Very short read, has an interesting story in-between the explanation of how one should think. I was already accustomed to Boyd’s OODA Loop, so it was refreshing to learn a different, albeit similar, process. The author explains the DADA process which means data, analysis, decision-making and action. Good thinking leads to good decision making and may or may not lead to actions. Sometimes the best decision is to do nothing.

I gave it 3 stars mostly because it was short and I didn’t really like th
Nick Skelton
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very well executed

This book is simple, clear, useful and interesting. The structure is awesome, textbook writing style, I loved it. Looking forward to the next one
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting little story and reflection on the conversion of information to action. Not particularly original. In the motorcycle course I took, they teach a process of riding: Scan-Identify-Predict-Decide-Execute, which is no different that DADA or OODA or whatever. The notion of BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) taught at Harvard's seminars on negotiation is related as well. If you have paid any attention to anything at all in your life, you would probably have encountered all ...more
Sleepless Dreamer
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Eh, more like 3.5 stars but it's my first read of the year so I'm gonna be generous.

Anyway, this is hardly a book, it's so short. On the other hand, I swear I'm going to finish my reading challenge so short books are acceptable.

So yeah, the writing style is very annoying. Writes like this. Every second. So many periods. You don't need to. Commas are your friends.

That said, he makes his point. He's condescending but it's there, this DADA type of thought. I'm so unanalytical, in situations I feel
Emily Olsen
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: espionage
I was expecting this to be overbearing and was happy to find that it wasn't. I really enjoyed the audiobook on my commute to work. Not only was the writing clear, but it also drew comparisons to scientific and historical examples that made for an engaging and approachable read. It was incredibly interesting to hear how the "spy" mode of thinking developed and its necessity in the history of American espionage post-WW2.
Phyllis Stewart
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yep, these are the guys I remember

I was just a 19-year-old girl when the blue shuttle pulled up to the CIA's main entrance. By the time I left, I met and worked with many fine people, even some real spies. This book is the real deal. This is the book I'm giving my grandkids to reach them the fine art of decision making. Highly recommended. You can't find a better use for an idle your
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not much to it but it was a fun read. Braddock discusses the thought process and how a spy analyses situations using a confrontation with a druggy on a train as a frame of reference (which happened to him on the to a covert meeting). This is a Kindle single so it can be read easily in one sitting and in less than an hour.
Darren Loreni
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Holds your interest and does a great job breaking down thinking

I don't know why I picked up this book but it was a great way to kill time while learning how the DADA thought process works.
Kit Lange
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Quick and dirty but effective

For those already familiar with the OODA loop this may serve as a refresher as it was for me. But from an Intel standpoint its excellent for beginners who aren't quite familiar with the process. Can't beat the price either.
Nadia S Alia
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reminders to life

Great short read on how to think in order to be effective. You can use thinking to gain positive outcomes and this is a brief reminder on how to think strategically in a split second.
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Goodreads Librari...: Add Japanese version to English version 2 18 Oct 13, 2015 08:12AM  

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A Spy's Guide to (4 books)
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November is the time for aspiring writers to get serious about writing that book! It's National Novel Writing Month, the annual event designed to...
54 likes · 12 comments
“That’s the chain of thinking: D-A-D-A. Getting data leads to analysis. Analysis leads to a decision. A decision leads to an action. Simple. That’s how thinking works.” 6 likes
“If thinking doesn’t end with action, it’s useless.” 5 likes
More quotes…