The Rise and Fall of Intelligence

An International Security History

Michael Warner

"Were I ever again to teach the history of intelligence, [this] would unquestionably be my primary text."
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This sweeping history of the development of professional, institutionalized intelligence examines the implications of the fall of the state monopoly on espionage today and beyond.

During the Cold War, only the alliances clustered around the two superpowers maintained viable intelligence endeavors, whereas a century ago, many states could aspire to be competitive at these dark arts. Today, larger states have lost their monopoly on intelligence skills and capabilities as technological and sociopolitical changes have made it possible for private organizations and even individuals to unearth secrets and influence global events.

Historian Michael Warner addresses the birth of professional intelligence in Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century and the subsequent rise of US intelligence during the Cold War. He brings this history up to the present day as intelligence agencies used the struggle against terrorism and the digital revolution to improve capabilities in the 2000s. Throughout, the book examines how states and other entities use intelligence to create, exploit, and protect secret advantages against others, and emphasizes how technological advancement and ideological competition drive intelligence, improving its techniques and creating a need for intelligence and counterintelligence activities to serve and protect policymakers and commanders.

The world changes intelligence and intelligence changes the world. This sweeping history of espionage and intelligence will be a welcomed by practitioners, students, and scholars of security studies, international affairs, and intelligence, as well as general audiences interested in the evolution of espionage and technology.

Table of Contents




1. From Ancient to Modern
2. A Revolutionary Age
3. As Good as It Gets
4. Cold War: Technology
5. Cold War: Ideology
6. The Liberal Triumph?
7. The Shadow War

Conclusion: Intelligence All around Us

Works Cited



"Historically accurate and thoroughly researched, yet its suspenseful narrative grabs the reader and makes the 400 pages race by. This book is indeed hard to put down, and provides interesting analyses of why the industry developed the way it did. . . . a must-buy for intelligence buffs."—Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies

"Warner masterfully addresses a subject that is at once problematically secretive and bogglingly expansive . . . [and] ensures that the work remains welcomingly accessible and informative. . . . The book shines meaningful light on a topic that craves existence in the shadows."—H-Net Reviews

"In examining the evolution of intelligence, Warner offers a remarkly apt and insightful work that will inform and benefit any serious scholar interested in intelligence. At the same time Warner offers an eminently accessible journey through the twists and turns in technological development. . . . Warner has done a remarkable job in setting the stage for future discussions of whose truth and whose lies will shape the future of intelligence development and employment. Knowing where we have come from is the first necessary step in mapping the future. Warner's book gets us off on the right foot in that discussion."—Intelligence and National Security

"This is no less than a tour de force. It is certainly what was necessary to succeed in such an ambitious, self-appointed endeavour: to write, to quote the subtitle of the book, an 'International Security History,' virtually encompassing the entire world from the second industrialisation to the digital revolution. . . . The qualities of the book are many and undisputable. First and foremost, the author demonstrates his undeniable knowledge of the topic. Even the most informed readers will benefit from the quasi ‘insider’ status of the author, from his intimate, first-hand knowledge of the American national security structure."—European Review of International Studies

"Michael Warner has done the impossible. In this excellent and concise volume, he has captured the rise of professional and organized espionage by states, while also explaining its integration with the ideological and technical revolutions of the last hundred years. This is not an easy task since the secret world is a complex and labyrinthine one, yet he has done it with remarkable lucidity."—International Affairs

"Extensively documented . . . Will challenge students while giving the interested reader important context about the role of intelligence in international relations."—Intelligencer

"A fine assessment of intelligence processes through the years."—Midwest Book Review

"A good guide to the nature of both sides of intelligence systems"—Father James V. Schall, S.J., Catholic Pulse

"Explores a series of international, domestic, or technological crises and how governments and intelligence professionals scrambled to meet these challenges, only to see these innovations shape future events in sometimes unanticipated and unwanted ways."—James J. Wirtz, Political Science Quarterly

"Were I ever again to teach the history of intelligence, [this] would unquestionably be my primary text."—Proceedings

"A spectacular contribution to the literature. In it he covers an enormous amount of complex and nuanced material in an extremely easy style, yet his substantial chapter notes and bibliography fully support the academically inclined reader. Were I ever again to teach the history of intelligence, Rise and Fall would unquestionably be my primary text."—Captain Steven E. Maffeo, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired), Proceedings

"This book presents a tour de force through the history and evolution of intelligence structures. Michael Warner is uniquely qualified to conduct such a journey. This is an important book and Warner ably demonstrates the influences of technology and ideology on the structure, means, and objectives of intelligence. These factors have shaped the nature of intelligence establishments over the last century and are as important today as ever before. It behooves us to understand the present evolutionary course of intelligence, and Michael Warner’s book is surely the best means to start doing so."—Michael Goodman, reader in intelligence and international affairs, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

"This is an interesting and detailed account of the history of intelligence from ancient times to the modern period."—Perspectives on Terrorism


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Michael Warner is a historian for the Department of Defense and was formerly a historian for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He has taught at American University, Johns Hopkins University, and Columbia University.

424 pp., 6 x 9
14 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-1-62616-103-0
Mar 2014

424 pp., 6 x 9
14 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-1-62616-046-0
Mar 2014

424 pp.
14 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-1-62616-047-7
Mar 2014

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