In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Intelligence

  • Introduction
  • Edited Volumes
  • Reference Resources
  • Journals
  • Democratic Accountability, Law, and Ethics
  • Analysis
  • Covert Action
  • Counterintelligence
  • Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation
  • Clandestine Operations and Human Intelligence

International Relations Intelligence
Christopher Andrew, Kristian Gustafson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 02 March 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0020


Intelligence (information gathering) as a field of academic study is relatively new. It is only since World War II that academics and practitioners have attempted to write about the field as a serious endeavor, though in that time it has generated something more than 10,000 academic monographs and countless articles. As a field, it is most closely allied with diplomatic, political, and military history; law enforcement; and also, increasingly, with international relations. Other aspects of intelligence studies touch on psychology, organizational theory, management, and many of the hard sciences. The field contains significant political debate over the propriety and morality of intelligence within modern liberal-democratic states, with some viewing intelligence practice as inimical to political openness, while others consider intelligence collection and analysis as a normal, universal state activity. Within the bibliography, a split can generally be identified between historical works and those that address the “theory of intelligence.” There is currently no universally accepted definition of “intelligence,” which is a matter of ongoing theoretical debate. Without attempts at independent definition here, it can rather be concluded from the literature below that intelligence is a secret state activity to understand or influence foreign entities (Warner 2002, cited under Defining Intelligence). To wit, it must be noted that “intelligence” is both information and the organized system for collecting and exploiting that information. The word intelligence can thus be used to describe an activity, a product of that activity, and the organization that carries out the activity. These broad definitional categories inform the selection of works below. It should also be noted that this article focuses largely on national or strategic-level intelligence.

Edited Volumes

The idea of having textbooks for intelligence courses is relatively new and follows naturally on the growth of courses and full programs about intelligence in universities on both sides of the Atlantic. The edited volume has most prolifically attempted to fill this requirement, as with Andrew, et al. 2009 in the United Kingdom and George and Bruce 2008 in the United States. Hughes, et al. 2008 applies the model to historiographical requirements suited to postgraduate students and researchers. Gill, et al. 2008 aptly uses the edited-volume venue to compare varying national systems.

  • Andrew, Christopher, Richard J. Aldrich, and Wesley K. Wark, eds. Secret Intelligence: A Reader. New York and London: Routledge, 2009.

    This reader is meant specifically for classroom use. There are thirty articles drawn from the writings of a number of scholars in the field of intelligence studies. It is an important compendium and will form a useful basis for most undergraduate or even graduate courses on intelligence.

  • George, Roger Z., and James B. Bruce, eds. Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2008.

    A US-focused collection of articles by intelligence experts from both inside and outside the US intelligence community. The volume covers the history, practice, and purposes of intelligence analysis specifically. This is an excellent compendium for courses on intelligence analysis.

  • Gill, Peter, Mark Phythian, Stuart Farson, and Shlomo Shpiro, eds. PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches. Intelligence and the Quest for Security. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008.

    This volume explores the cultural nature of national intelligence systems, highlighting how different inputs have made their evolution unique in different environments. This is specifically a comparative volume, which makes it particularly useful for graduate courses.

  • Hughes, R. Gerald, Peter Jackson, and Len Scott, eds. Exploring Intelligence Archives: Enquiries into the Secret State. Studies in Intelligence. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.

    The method followed by this volume, composed primarily of new pieces, is to provide background of an event, followed by reproductions of some relevant documents, then more analysis. A useful volume for courses following a case-studies methodology, or dealing with historiography.

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