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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

From the former director of GCHQ, learn the methodology used by the British intelligence agencies to reach judgements, establish the right level of confidence and act decisively.

Intelligence officers discern the truth. They gather information - often contradictory or incomplete - and, with it, they build the most accurate possible image of the world. With the stakes at their absolute highest, they must then decide what to do.  

In everyday life, you are faced with contradictory, incomplete information, too. Reading the news on social media, figuring out the next step in your career, or trying to discover if gossip about a friend is legitimate, you are building an image of the world and making decisions about it. 

Looking through the eyes of one of Britain's most senior ex-intelligence officers, Professor Sir David Omand, How Spies Think shows how the big decisions in your life will be easier to make when you apply the same frameworks used by British intelligence. Full of revealing examples from his storied career, including key briefings with prime ministers from Thatcher to Blair, and conflicts from the Falklands to Afghanistan, Professor Omand arms us with the tools to sort fact from fiction and shows us how to use real intelligence every day. 

©2020 David Omand (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"One of the best books ever written about intelligence analysis and its long-term lessons. Brilliant, lucid and thought-provoking." (Christopher Andrew, author of The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5)

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  • Bouquiniste
  • 22-11-20

Not the way to teach maths.

An interesting exposition of the way in which intelligence is analysed and acted upon, but reading out mathematical equations just doesn't work – one needs to see these WRITTEN DOWN and the absence of a PDF document to accompany the audiobook must surely count as an intelligence failure!!

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  • ---Iain---
  • 03-04-21

An old spy's essential lessons for the digital age

While in parts overly technical for the lay reader, stick with it. The insights of a life in secret intelligence from the late sixties onwards covering Northern Ireland, The Falklands War, The conflict in the former Yugoslavia, to the interference in the US and European democratic processes by Putin's Russia. David Omand brings that technical evaluation of information for the reader / listener in a way that gives useful basic tools in information evaluation for future use. It will not make you an expert, in the same way that basic car maintenance skills does not make you a mechanic but you will be better equipped for the digital age by knowing those skills.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-02-21

Ultra boring mostly

The first half of the book in comparison I could say was bearable although it mainly discusses techniques that are widely known in the public domain such as application of Bayesian probability thinking. The second half of the book is ultra boring and I would already know as I keep up with the news... so overall a disappointment as I had high expectations following a rave review in a financial newspaper I read.