This is a post I wrote more than a year and half ago.  I thought that I would finally share it.

A while back I saw a 60 Minutes television interview with Henry Crumpton, a retired CIA operative with extensive experience. The interview was so interesting to me that I immediately went out and got his book that had been released a few days after.


A legendary CIA spy and counterterrorism expert tells the spellbinding story of his high-risk, action-packed career while illustrating the growing importance of America’s intelligence officers and their secret missions

For a crucial period, Henry Crumpton led the CIA’s global covert operations against America’s terrorist enemies, including al Qaeda. In the days after 9/11, the CIA tasked Crumpton to organize and lead the Afghanistan campaign. With Crumpton’s strategic initiative and bold leadership, from the battlefield to the Oval Office, U.S. and Afghan allies routed al Qaeda and the Taliban in less than ninety days after the Twin Towers fell. At the height of combat against the Taliban in late 2001, there were fewer than five hundred Americans on the ground in Afghanistan, a dynamic blend of CIA and Special Forces. The campaign changed the way America wages war. This book will change the way America views the CIA.

The Art of Intelligence draws from the full arc of Crumpton’s espionage and covert action exploits to explain what America’s spies do and why their service is more valuable than ever. From his early years in Africa, where he recruited and ran sources, from loathsome criminals to heroic warriors; to his liaison assignment at the FBI, the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, the development of the UAV Predator program, and the Afghanistan war; to his later work running all CIA clandestine operations inside the United States, he employs enthralling storytelling to teach important lessons about national security, but also about duty, honor, and love of country.

No book like The Art of Intelligence has ever been written-not with Crumpton’s unique perspective, in a time when America faced such grave and uncertain risk. It is an epic, sure to be a classic in the annals of espionage and war.

I loved this book.  The best part is that not really a memoir, but a readable study in what motivates people to spy for the United States, and how the CIA’s operations officers get them to do it. It is illustrated with stories from Crumpton’s career and those of his friends and colleagues. It is entertaining, funny, illuminating, and educational. It made me want to join the CIA.

The book contains some previously unreported or under-reported events like:

1) How the Predator drone program was created due to the determination of enterprising young operations officers and military details.

2) How CIA’s National Resources division quietly does its work in the domestic theater, with the help of patriots in the private sector.

3) the critical role of liaison with foreign intelligence services and how that works.

4) The battle between the FBI and the CIA on foreign soils.

The best part of this book is that it not only describes how operations officers do their work, but how analysts, technicians, support staff, all work together to provide the best intelligence they can for the country. Whether policymakers use it or not is another matter, addressed in this book in a factual, non-strident way.

It is a fast read. Crumpton’s writing style is simple, direct and clear and you have no questions about where he stands on matters of opinion.

The next book I am currently reading is The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda