Idle reading

I confess to reading stuff on the internet when I should be working. Before you drag me off and shoot me, try this site. What is this? It is a sortable index to every article that has been declassified from the CIA’s in house journal, Studies in Intelligence, now published as a quarterly. The sortable index (a state of the art web-page, done by someone appropriately anonymous) is usually several months out of date; if you want the latest issue, try here the official website, here. Although there are always dense, chunky articles on policy, or new ways of thinking about intelligence, Studies in Intelligence is also full of great bits of forgotten or obscure history, such as “A Cable to Napoleon” by Edwin Fishel, who is identified elsewhere in Studies as a retired NSA analyst.

Another great feature are the book reviews; each issue has several lengthy reviews of books and/or movies, all intelligence related of course, and “The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf,” a collection of thumbnail reviews by Hayden Peake. Peake is an acknowledged expert in intelligence history, and an expert at condensing bulky stuff into a few pithy comments. Reading Peake coolly take apart yet another unreliable collection of spy anecdotes is a pleasure comparable to reading that other great debunker of historical anecdote, Ramon Adams (Burs under the Saddle; a Second Look at Books and Histories of the West. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964).

All in all, I rate Studies as a great return on the taxpayer dollars. Okay, now give me my blindfold and cigarette.

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