The history of secret intelligence, like secret intelligence itself, is fraught with difficulties surrounding both the reliability and completeness of the sources, and the motivations behind their release—which can be the product of ongoing propaganda efforts as well as competition among agencies. Indeed, these difficulties lead to the Scylla and Charybdis of overestimating the importance of secret intelligence for foreign policy and statecraft and also underestimating its importance in these same areas—problems that generally beset the actual use of secret intelligence in modern states. But in recent decades, traditional perspectives have given ground and judgments have been revised in light of new evidence.
This volume brings together a collection of essays avoiding the traditional pitfalls while carrying out the essential task of analyzing the recent evidence concerning the history of the European state system of the last century. The essays offer an array of insight across countries and across time. Together they highlight the critical importance of the prevailing domestic circumstances—technological, governmental, ideological, cultural, financial—in which intelligence operates. A keen interdisciplinary eye focused on these developments leaves us with a far more complete understanding of secret intelligence in Europe than we've had before.
About the authors
Jonathan Haslam is Professor of the History of International Relations at Cambridge University.
Karina Urbach is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.
"Secret Intelligence in the European State System, 1918–1989 is an excellent collection and valuable contribution to the field of European intelligence history during the twentieth century."
—Kristie Macrakis, H-Diplo
"This worthy essay collection examines the relatively under-studied history of secret intelligence in France, East and West Germany, Britain, and Stalin's Russia . . . As a whole, the collection provides a useful reminder that secret intelligence does not operate in a vacuum. Nor should the scholarly study of intelligence . . . Highly recommended."
—P. C. Kennedy, CHOICE
"This collection of essays by notable scholars advances our understanding of aspects of European intelligence history, still an underdog field compared to the enormous literature on Anglo-American intelligence. The essays on French intelligence, in particular, are outstanding—gems of insight into a national intelligence system that struggled to make a difference."
—Wesley Wark, University of Ottawa
"The contributors to this excellent volume provide us with insight into a frequently overlooked period in the history of intelligence organizations. The essays present a balanced study of the contributions of secret intelligence in this volatile time as well as enumerate the political constraints under which they operated."
—Glenn Hastedt, James Madison University