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The Craft of Intelligence: America's Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  644 ratings  ·  43 reviews
If the experts could point to any single book as a starting point for understanding the subject of intelligence from the late twentieth century to today, that single book would be Allen W. Dulles's The Craft of Intelligence. This classic of spycraft is based on Allen Dulles's incomparable experience as a diplomat, international lawyer, and America's premier intelligence of ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 1st 2016 by Lyons Press (first published November 30th 1962)
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This book was more interesting than I thought it would be. Allen said he grew up discussing foreign affairs at the dinner table thus his life long interest. It is amazing that his family produced three Secretary of State: John W. Foster (1836-1917) who served as Secretary of State to President Benjamin Harrison; Robert Lansing (1864-1928) was from Allen’s mother’s side of the family and served President Woodrow Wilson; and his brother, John Foster Dulles, (1888-1959) served President Dwight D. E ...more
G.T. Almasi
Yawn-O-Rama. The writing is real-l-l-l-y dull, because spying isn't actually all that exciting, and Allen Dulles is a crashing bore. I made myself read this as pure research, figuring if I'm going to write spy novels I'd better have taken in the real stuff. It's a good look into the short-sighted, self-righteous, asinine mindset of circa-1960s CIA. An influence I took away was that big government agencies make a lot of mistakes, and so having my fictional agencies do some dumb things once in a w ...more
Dan McGrady
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best way to understand a subject is often to read about how it started and this book is about the founding of the CIA in the early 1950s by the original director.

This is probably the best introduction to the intelligence world that I've read so far, beyond maybe John Le Carre's fictional novels. Le Carre provides a better perspective of what it's like being a body on the inside, such as the constant internal and external politics the consume it - that for me at least - had made the successes
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
When I began in the intelligence field in 1965, this was our unofficial bible. Although based primarily on Europe during WWII, many of the techniques are being used worldwide. A wonderful read for anyone who wants to understand the craft of intelligence.
A good outline of the basics of intelligence. Written in the mid-sixties, so it is heavy on Cold War stories and examples. While generally straightforward, the author (Allen Dulles) concealed some things in the interest of security, some of which later were made public.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-2019
Dulles' reflections on the craft of intelligence offer many interesting insights into tradecraft, but the book is ultimately overwhelmed by its many weaknesses.

The biggest flaw of Dulles' reflections is that he fails to examine the US and the Soviet Union without deeply rooted biases. To Dulles, the Soviet's exercise of intelligence tradecraft is evidence of a subversive regime set on world domination, while the US's use of the same tactics is an example of a nation driven by a desire to see co
Ursin Raffainer
It's a rather dry, but nonetheless interesting book.
It mainly covers Russian and American Intelligence Services from the firsth half of the 20th century.
One of the main focuses is the Cold War rivalery of the CIA and Soviet Services and many case studies belong in this context.

The main goal of the book however is to give a good and well informed inside view of how the CIA is organized, what kind of personel it needs and recruits, what some of the jobs are and what kind of impact the work of the
Bruce T Ridinger
The federal government only names a distinctive Washington, DC airport honoring a person of significant public service and historical importance. This has been the case indeed with the likes of Allen W. Dulles. A special person had to help guide a young and rather naïve American government into the world intelligence apparatus business.

Consequently, we have had a lot of catching up to do for understanding and countering subversion and espionage realm from various hostile nations. Everyone does
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This an excellent source to adquiere a western perspective of the Cold War from the viewpoint of intelligence gathering. What this is NOT however, is an updated book about the craft. The book brings with it a lot about espionage that will continue being valid throughout time regardless of technological advances; but if you are looking for something that may open the door to you about the internal functioning of the CIA, this is not it.
I want to also remind the reader that this book was written
Ironman Ninetytwo
A reasonably descriptive account of the intelligence collection side of the CIA from the peak of the cold war. However, Dulles steers clear of intervention activities, especially including Bay of Pigs, which happened on his watch. That's fully cheating. Towards the end, Dulles ruminates about his wish that the government could circumscribe the freedom of the press, which was gross. Then he put the cherry on the sundae by advising against using anyone with immorality like affairs in intelligence ...more
Karen Lynn
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book notes, “Intelligence deals with all the things which should be known in advance of initiating a course of action.” This book is interested in decision making - emphasis on the practical use of advance information in its relation to action. Intelligence gathering is a crucial step in the process of security. It is the reason why “the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move.” ~Sun Tzu (5th century BC)

Kent Weatherby
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is timeless. We see evidence of Dulles' wisdomdi in the distrust Americans have in their government and the refusal of many to apply a rule of reason to their public comments.

The book is timeless. We see evidence of Dulles ' wisdom in the distrust Americans have in their government and the refusal of many to apply a rule of reason to their public comments.
Bruce R. Arnold
Jul 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. Very little about the craft of intelligence. Lots of history and some case studies. No hint of the atrocities the CIA has been involved with. You would think their dainty hands were clean as the driven snow. Honestly, I think the real reason this book was written was for anti-communist propaganda, and he did quite a lot of that.
It had some nuggets of wisdom, but I found the book somewhat empty and devoid. I understand he had not long retired from the job and was prohibited from sharing some of the more juicier secrets. However, I do feel he could have offered greater insights. It was still a great read, but was somewhat lacking.
Fredrick Danysh
Dulles, who was a lawyer,a career diplomat, and head of the CIA writes on American intelligence gathering operations. He gives a brief history of the CIA and techniques of intelligence gathering. Originally published in 1963.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good writing style, but largely anecdotal. Informative and engaging, but I couldn't find the time to read more than halfway through. ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those interested in early Cold War history this is a must read.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible-books
The information that just happened is a bit dated but its a good listen.
David W Harris
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favorite books on the subject matter. It is a bit dated, but an excellent read.
Benjamin Spurlock
Anyone who wants to write anything along the lines of spies or intelligence operators should read this book. Allen Dulles, a director of the CIA and an ardent advocate for the role of intelligence operations in a free society, passionately explains the nature and workings of intelligence, and gives several examples of both successes and failures of the craft.

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see where some of his assertions were false. He asserts that the CIA has never backed a d
Deane Barker
This book was probably great back in 1965 or so when it was written, but it's dated, 50 years later. There are several sections on the actual practice of intelligence, which may or may not less relevant today. Additionally, the communications revolution of the last 25 years has no-doubt changed a lot.

Several sections are interesting --

* A chapter details lots of mistakes that compromised operations, from unexpected construction which covered up a dead drop, to undercover operatives who were hit
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: intelligence
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve just got around to reading this, but there you have it. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read it years ago (I remember most of the tales he uses as examples from the old “Ballantine Espionage/Intelligence Library” paperbacks I read as a teenager in the late ‘70s), but it was still a good read. Part as advertised by the title, a large part advocacy for the Agency, part defensive, and part recruiting pitch, (all in the context of the early ‘6 ...more
Julian Vidal
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage
This book taught me that the CIA is one of the youngest, 'picked on' agencies in the modern world, and that we should not fear our 'big brother' for, although he seemingly despises us, is creating situations to better us in the long run. This is the first book I have ever read regarding non-fiction National Security policy, espionage, and inner-workings of a government agency. If you want to know more behind the foundation of today's CIA - read this book.

Allen Dulles makes an effort explaining
Eli Kale
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Detailed and very informative

If you're interested in the world of intelligence-gathering, specifically that of the CIA in its early years, then this makes for a great read.

Dulles includes many anecdotes and firsthand details regarding an array of aspects on the subject of intelligence, which all help to better explain just what defined this organization in its nascent years. The author also touches on foreign intelligence organizations, chiefly those of the Soviet Union, and how they influenced
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really interesting read. While it's more of a historical reference at this point, for someone completely outside the spy business, this book was very informative. A lot of it reflects the time it was written in, and with hindsight, you can see how laughable it was that the Soviet Union was going to turn all of Asia and Europe communist. The section about how Mossadegh was just a tool of the Soviets was outrageous and enraging.

At turns a justification for the existence of the CIA and a
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very timely book to read in this era of the "NSA Gate" (the Snowden saga). A lot of the content reads really modern, even though it was written nearly half a century ago. For example, the CIA founder mentions that he won't spy on friendly foreign leaders, except in special circumstances. There are many other insights on the craft of intelligence as well as fun examples from the Cold War era and even the US Civil War days and the dawn of organized intelligence services.

All in all, I rea
Dec 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cold-war
Opinions of the longest-serving de facto director of the CIA and the villain of the famous Russian conspiracy theory. I was reminded of Noam Chomsky's What Uncle Sam Really Wants, but with the opposite sign; it is equally truthful. A characteristic quote is, "[Communist] stooges took over power in Iran in 1953 and in Guatemala in 1954." Of course, Chomsky is far more popular among educated Americans. ...more
To the novice it may seem strange how concerned the author is with security. War is a continuation of politics through other means, and intelligence is security through other means. That being read, this book was lacking. The HUMINT and CI parts of the book were fantastic; however thats about it. There was very little of anything else, save overhead. Security is mentioned and repeated many times, as is a history of the CIA when it seems apporpriate.
Jan 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Allen Dulles is one of the central figures in the creation of an organized intelligence structure in the United States. This book is largely comprised of his recollections on the work he did over the years he spent as both an agent and as the mastermind behind the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency. It's dated stuff largely, but an interesting read nonetheless. ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dulles is unquestionably a master on this subject. The book is dense, as each word was carefully chosen by an expert spymaster to produce an exact effect.

The work is now fifty years out of date, and a significant quantity of the book is simply recounting various defections, deceptions, coups and plots which succeeded or failed.
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Allen Welsh Dulles, American Diplomant and lawyer who served as the first civilian director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1953 to 1961.

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