Retired U.S. Navy intelligence officer Dahl (national security affairs, Naval Postgraduate Sch.) argues here that the conventional wisdom on intelligence analysis is wrong; better imaginative and comprehensive analysis of intelligence data will not thwart surprise attacks. Rather, he emphatically contends that his study of both military and terrorist surprise attacks demonstrates that precise tactical-level warnings that policymakers deem convincing are necessary to foil surprise attacks. Dahl examines a wide range of military surprise attacks including Pearl Harbor, Midway, and the Egyptian surprise attack on Israel in 1973. He recognizes that his analysis of recent terrorist attacks depends upon press reports and government-released information, both of which can have significant limitations, but he scrutinizes dozens of terrorists attacks including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in East Africa, the 9/11 attack, and more. He finds that the two elements he cites—of tactical warning intelligence and policymakers receptive to these warnings—always distinguish the prevention of a surprise attack. VERDICT Dahl's book will appeal to intelligence professionals, scholars of U.S. intelligence operations and policy, and readers interested in national security.—Mark Jones, Mercantile Lib., Cincinnati
Dahl, Erik. 2013. Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond. Washington DC, Georgetown University Press.