Intelligence and Strategic Surprises

Title:                      Intelligence and Strategic Surprises

Author:                 Ariel Levite

Levite, Ariel (1987). Intelligence and Strategic Surprises. New York: Columbia University Press.

LCCN:    86017401

UB250 .L48 1987


Date Updated:  April 7, 2017

Reviewed by Gregory F. Treverton[1]

This small book is thought-provoking if ultimately unconvincing. It launches a broadside against the now conventional wisdom about surprise attack, based in significant measure on Roberta Wohlstetter’s classic work on Pearl Harbor: that warning was available but not grasped because of organizational and psychological barriers. Reexamining Pearl Harbor and Midway, Levite argues that in fact sufficient warning indicators were not available before Pearl Harbor. Two cases, however, are a modest basis for generalizing, especially for an author as careful about method as Levite. More important, he comes close to arguing a tautology: if warning was not grasped, the indicators must have been insufficient.

[1] Gregory F. Treverton, Foreign Affairs (Fall 1987 Issue)

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