Captains Without Eyes

Title:                      Captains Without Eyes

Author:                 Lyman B. Kirkpatrick, Jr.

Kirkpatrick, Lyman B., Jr. (1969, 1987). Captains Without Eyes: Intelligence Failures In World War II. Boulder, CO: Westview Press

LCCN:    87029599

D810.S7 K54 1987


Date Updated:  October 30, 2015

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

Kirkpatrick headed the OSS intelligence detachment with the U.S. Twelfth Army Group. The detachment was involved in liaison and coordination of intelligence. It was also in special operations. He is thus in a good position to discuss the role intelligence played in one of the five major events or battles he examines here-the Battle of the Bulge. Others dealt with are Pearl Harbor, the German invasion of the USSR, Dieppe, and Arnhem. His section on Pearl Harbor contributes nothing of any significance. As for the other intelligence failures or failures to heed intelligence, his treatment of Arnhem and the Bulge is made out of date by new information. The reader is referred to Lewins Ultra Goes to War[2] on Arnhem, Bennett’s Ultra in the West[3] on both Arnhem and the Bulge, and Koch’s G-2: Intelligence for Patton[4] also on the Bulge for more up-to-date information of what intelligence and analyses were or were not available prior to these battles. Kirkpatrick was in error in believing, as did others, that the agent Lucy provided warning of the German attack on the Soviet Union. He does not conclude that Barbarossa, the German plan to invade the USSR, was a deception success on the part of the Germans, contrary to the later thesis of Whaley (Barbarossa). Wohlstetter’s Pearl Harbor, Warning and Decision[5]) is regarded as the best on that subject.

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[6]

An interesting examination of five major intelligence “faiIures “ of WWII (Barbarossa, Pearl Harbor, Dieppe, Arnhem, Battle of the Bulge) with chapters on the problems of foresight and the brilliance of hindsight in such matters.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[7]

Kirkpatrick, former executive director of the CIA, attempts to explore the real issues of the role of intelligence in decision making. As a means to this end he discusses the intelligence role played in five specific battles of World War II. The section on Pearl Harbor adds little to that which has already been written. The sections on the bottles of Arnhem and Dieppe are well developed. The author analyzes the difficulties of collecting the specific information required for decision making, and here his insights are useful.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 271-272

[2] Lewin, Ronald (1978). Ultra Goes to War: The First Account of World War II’s Greatest Secret Based On Official Documents. London: Hutchinson

[3] Bennett, Ralph (1979, 1980). Ultra in The West: The Normandy Campaign 1944-5. New York: Scribners

[4] Koch, Oscar W. (1971, 1999) with Robert G. Hays. G-2: Intelligence For Patton. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History

[5] Wohlstetter, Roberta (1962). Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press

[6] Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature: A Critical And Annotated Bibliography of Open-Source Literature (7th ed, rev.). Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence School, p. 37

[7] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 33


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One Response to Captains Without Eyes

  1. Pingback: Utilization of Intelligence chapter 5 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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