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Challenges in Intelligence Analysis: Lessons Learned from 1300 BCE to the Present

Challenges in Intelligence Analysis: Lessons Learned from 1300 BCE to the Present. By Timothy Walton; published by Cambridge University Press,; 308 pages; $32.99.

Challenges in Intelligence Analysis is a fascinating study of the history of intelligence analysis from biblical times to the present. The author covers 39 historical events primarily in military, terrorist, and political realms but also focuses on some business- and marketing-related intelligence events.

The first portion of the book covers the definitions of analysis and four interrelated aspects of intelligence decision making: uncertainty, surprise, deception, and the future. (The latter being, will a military campaign succeed? What effect will technology have, etc.?) The author’s analysis of historical events covers these four aspects.

The events are outlined without extraneous information and are primarily focused on specifics. At the conclusion of each historical event is a list of questions to initiate classroom discussion. Walton also refers to previously discussed events and compares them to each other.

Some interesting points are that the phrase “win the hearts and minds” of a populace originated with the British during the Malaysian counterinsurgency in 1948 to 1949, which was a successful campaign at that time. The author advises that one of the first uses of link analysis was during the Lindbergh kidnapping trial of Bruno Hauptmann in 1935 by the prosecution.

The book is written for a college level course and fits the bill. The author emphasizes the importance of studying historical intelligence events to learn from them in the application of current analysis of any intelligence problem.

Challenges in Intelligence Analysis is an excellent read and is highly recommended. Although it is written for students, it would likely be of interest to anyone who wants to expand his or her knowledge of intelligence analysis.

Reviewer: Adrian A. Barnie, CPP, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), CAMS (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist), is a contract senior investigator assigned to the United States Attorney’s Office in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a member of ASIS.