Introduction to Intelligence Studies

Title:                      Introduction to Intelligence Studies

Author:                Carl J. Jensen, III

Jensen, Carl J. III (2013), David H. McElreath, and Melissa Graves. Introduction to Intelligence Studies Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press

LCCN:    2012035911

JK468.I6 .J47 2013


  • “This book covers the essentials for a student with an interest in gaining a basic understanding of the way intelligence “works” (or doesn’t) in today’s rapidly evolving world”– Provided by publisher.


Date Updated:   August 16, 2017

Reviewed by Hayden Peake[1]

While preparing an undergraduate introductory course at the University of Mississippi on intelligence in America; the authors of this book could not find a text that met their needs. Drawing on their extensive backgrounds—military, FBI, law enforcement, consulting, and legal—they wrote this Introduction to Intelligence Studies.

The 15 chapters summarize the basic topics: what intelligence is, its history, the intelligence community’s organization, the intelligence cycle, the principal functions, oversight, writing, current threats, and some comments on the future. There is also a chapter that looks specifically at law-enforcement intelligence and another that considers what the authors term a “barrier to analysis,” for example, security issues and policymaker interactions.

Now, most of these topics are covered by Mark Lowenthal in his book lntelligence from Secrets to Policy.[2] But the similarity stops there. Introduction to Intelligence Studies assumes its readers will have less knowledge of the topic than readers of Lowenthal’s book. Each chapter, therefore, includes discussion topics, a list of key terms, and references for further reading. They do not include source notes, however, so students have every right to ask how the authors know what they assert.

In their preface, the authors encourage readers—and hopefully reviewers—to comment on flaws, an opportunity that should not be overlooked. Three are worth mentioning here. First, the intelligence provided by civil war spies Belle Boyd and Rose Greenhaw was not crucial to any Confederate victories; it was marginal at best. Second, Pinkerton did not “go on to guard Lincoln throughout the Civil War”; (p. 19) his service ended in 1862 (see Edwin Fishel’s The Secret War for the Union[3] for details). Third, Operation Ajax was a joint US-UK endeavor, as Kermit Roosevelt—the CIA man on the scene—pointed out in his memoir[4].

Overall, however, the Introduction to Intelligence Studies is a very good primer indeed.

Reviewed by Joshua Sinai, Ph. D.[5]

This authoritative textbook provides a comprehensive overview of the U.S. intelligence community, its history, evolution and latest developments (for instance, the role of the intelligence component in the Department of Homeland Security and the office of the Director of National Intelligence) and how the various intelligence agencies operate. Also covered are the components of intelligence, such as collection, analytic methods, the intelligence cycle, counterintelligence, and covert operations. The components of military intelligence, as well as criminal intelligence and crime analysis are also covered. The final chapters discuss the nature of national security threats that are addressed by the intelligence community, as well as future challenges, including forecasting future threats.

Review of the 2017 edition in The Intelligencer[6]

Since the attacks of 9/11, the US IC has undergone an extensive overhaul. Perhaps the greatest of these changes has been the formation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. As a cabinet-level official, the Director oversees the various agencies of the IC and reports directly to the President. The IC today faces challenges as it never has before; everything from terrorism to pandemics to economic stability has now become an intelligence issue. As a result, the IC is shifting its focus to a world in which tech-savvy domestic and international terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, failing states, and economic instability are now a way of life.

Introduction to Intelligence Studies provides a comprehensive overview of intelligence and security issues, defining critical terms, and reviewing the history of intelligence as practiced in the United States. Designed in a practical sequence, the book begins with the basics of intelligence, progresses through its history, describes best practices, and explores the way the IC looks and operates today. Each chapter begins with objectives and key terms and closes with questions to test reader assimilation.

The authors examine the “pillars” of the American intelligence system—collection, analysis, counterintelligence, and covert operations—and demonstrate how these work together to provide “decision advantage.” The book provides equal treatment to the functions of the intelligence world—balancing coverage on intelligence collection, counterintelligence, information management, critical thinking, and decision-making. It also covers such vital issues as laws and ethics, writing and briefing for the IC, and the emerging threats and challenges that intelligence professionals will face in the future.

Carl J. Jensen III, Ph.D., a former FBI special agent, is the director of the University of Mississippi’s (UM) Center for Intelligence and Security Studies. David H. McElreath, Ph.D., has a background that includes service as professor and chair, Department of Legal Studies, University of Mississippi; Melissa Graves, J.D., M.A., serves as project coordinator and instructor at the University of Mississippi’s Center for Intelligence and Security Studies.

[1] Peake, Hayden B. in The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies (20, 1, Spring/Summer 2013, pp. 111-112). Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence. These and many other reviews and articles may be found on line at

[2] Lowenthal, Mark M. (2009). Intelligence from Secrets to Policy (4th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press

[3] Fishel, Edwin C. (1996).The Secret War for the Union: The Untold Story of Military Intelligence in the Civil War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

[4] See Roosevelt, Kermit (1979). Countercoup: The Struggle for the Control of Iran. New York: McGraw-Hill

[5] Sinai, Joshua in The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies (20, 2, Fall/Winter, 2013, p. 121). These reviews present books which examine national security issues that need to be considered in terrorism and counterterrorism analysis. Joshua Sinai is a Washington, DC-based consultant on counterterrorism studies. He can be reached at: Joshua.sinai@

[6] Reviewed in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 3, Winter 2016-17, p. 140).



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