A scholarly but highly readable account of France's intelligence networks, from the "black chambers" of the ancien rTgime and Napoleon to the formation of the SDECE (CIA) and the DST (FBI). The events chronicled range from the Dreyfus Affair, to WWI and WWII, to Indochina and Algeria, to the Rainbow Warrior debacle. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Douglas Porch is a professor of strategy at the Naval War College.From Booklist:
Readers expecting a chronicle of daring escapades by spies and counterspies will be disappointed. Instead, Porch has detailed the steady growth and evolution of the French intelligence-gathering apparatus. If there are heroes here, they are the often faceless bureaucrats who labor in obscurity, generally known only to their colleagues. Porch traces the roots of the secret services back to the Thirty Years War; he shows how the process of intelligence gathering received structure and pervasiveness under Napoleon. Porch's analysis of the role of the infamous Statistical Section during the Dreyfus Affair is particularly interesting; he feels the section insisted on Dreyfus' guilt less for reasons of anti-Semitism and more for reasons of bureaucratic self-preservation. As Porch moves into the twentieth century, he provides fascinating tidbits on the services' search for "hidden" fascists, communists, and even environmental extremists. Porch is perhaps our nation's foremost scholar of French military history; he is also a highly skilled writer blessed with a sharp sense of irony and the ability to find interesting aspects in the seemingly mundane affairs of state. Jay Freeman
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