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

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Collections
  • Classic Works on Intelligence
  • Deception Theory
  • Intelligence and Strategy
  • Perceptions and Assessments
  • Surprise and Intelligence Failure
  • Command and Communications
  • Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence
  • Military Assessment in Peacetime
  • Ancient Intelligence
  • Military Intelligence, 1792–1900
  • The Road to World War I
  • World War I
  • The Road to World War II
  • Western Assessments of Japanese Forces, 1919–1941
  • German Military Intelligence during World War II
  • The Eastern Front
  • Ultra
  • The Pacific War
  • The Battle of the Atlantic
  • History of Deception
  • The Cold War
  • Guerrilla Wars and Counterinsurgencies
  • The Indochina Wars
  • Target Acquisition in Strike Warfare
  • Electronic Warfare and Electronic Counter Measures
  • Psychological Warfare and Information Operations
  • Revolutionary Transformation

Military History Military Intelligence
John R. Ferris
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 July 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0044


The study of military intelligence lies at the intersection of “military” and “intelligence” history. The first is a rich and ancient field; the second is new, and smaller. The intersection between them is problematic. Much of the best military history takes intelligence for granted, while the strongest works about intelligence often do not address military topics. Discussions of military intelligence, moreover, touch on broader issues, like strategy, command, and communications. Works on military intelligence are not uniformly mature. Hence, narrow studies often are the best account available of important issues, even though they do not cover a whole topic. Articles and anthologies are more useful than in most areas of military history. Rather than discuss weak studies about intelligence in important fields of military history, this bibliography aims to describe the best literature on military intelligence. Thus, it has special sections on areas where work on military intelligence is strong, and smaller sections on periods or topics where the study is weak, no matter how intrinsically important the latter may be. Unfortunately, many important areas of military intelligence have received little attention, while a disproportionate number of good works focus on the Anglo-American experiences in the two world wars, which distorts understanding of the phenomenon as a whole. Sometimes, a good military history which pays respectable attention to intelligence is the best work available; or, alternatively, as with psychological warfare, a few old books offer a better picture than hundreds of more recent, but more narrow, articles. Throughout the field, far more than with other areas of military history, one must take unusual care in avoiding bad books, which are legion. This bibliography aims not merely to guide readers toward good books, but also away from bad ones; to note not just strengths, but also to suggest areas where more research is desirable, and possible. Often, these works should be seen as case studies, which illustrate the experiences not just of one service or country, but many of both. Most of these works represent first-generation scholarship. There are as yet few cases of second-generation historiography, replete with revisionism and debate. Such cases will be noted. This guide also focuses on works written in the English language.


The literature on the history of intelligence in general, and military intelligence in particular, is scattered across dozens of specialist subfields, in many languages. Fortunately, one strength of the field is works of bibliography, which guide the assiduous student toward works of relevance. In terms of chronological coverage, from the classical to contemporary periods, students are well served by Sheldon 2002, Calder 1999, and Clark’s The Literature of Intelligence. Constantinides 1983 retains value, but is somewhat dated. Sexton 1996 and Shulman 1976 offer good if dated bibliographies on one key area, signals intelligence. West 2010 points to works on naval intelligence, while Whaley 2007 is a masterful compilation of works on deception. Polmar and Allen 2004 is a useful encyclopedia, for general reference.

  • Calder, James D., ed. Intelligence, Espionage and Related Topics: An Annotated Bibliography of Serial Journal and Magazine Scholarship, 1844–1998. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.

    An outstanding bibliography on scholarship about intelligence before 1999, with intelligent commentaries on the works it discusses. The standard work in its field.

  • Clark, J. Ransom. The Literature of Intelligence: A Bibliography of Materials, with Essays, Reviews, and Comments.

    The most useful and up-to-date bibliography regarding current writing on intelligence, with excellent commentaries on the works it discusses. The standard work for the literature after 1998, and good for previous decades.

  • Constantinides, George C. Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1983.

    Once the standard bibliography on intelligence and still a good one, with unusually good commentaries on the works it discusses.

  • Polmar, Norman and Thomas B. Allen. Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage. 2d ed. New York: Random House, 2004.

    The best of the many encyclopedias of intelligence. Thorough and generally reliable, though with minor errors.

  • Sexton, Donal J., ed. Signals Intelligence in World War II: A Research Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996.

    A good, though dated, account of the most famous part of the history of military intelligence, with useful commentaries on the works it discusses.

  • Sheldon, R. M.. Espionage in the Ancient World: An Annotated Bibliography of Books and Articles in Western Languages. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002.

    An excellent bibliography of works on intelligence in the classical era, with useful commentaries on the works it discusses.

  • Shulman, David. An Annotated Bibliography of Cryptography. New York: Garland, 1976.

    A good, and dated, account of a technical and important aspect of the history of intelligence, with intelligent commentaries on the works it discusses.

  • West, Nigel. Historical Dictionary of Naval Intelligence. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2010.

    A good bibliography on the field of naval intelligence, with serious commentaries on the works and events it discusses.

  • Whaley, Barton. Detecting Deception: A Bibliography of Counterdeception Across Time, Cultures, and Disciplines—Supplement to the Second Edition. Washington, DC: Foreign Denial and Deception Committee, National Intelligence Council, 2007.

    An outstanding bibliography of the literature on deception and related topics, such as double dealing, tricks, and treachery, with intelligent commentaries on the works it discusses. The standard work in its field.

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