Most Secret and Confidential:Intelligence in the Age of Nelson
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“Here is a book to be devoured by every military professional ... an insightful, magnificent history, exquisitely researched and brilliantly written.”
“A very worthy effort and a massive piece of scholarship ... many congratulations on your splendid work.”
“I really liked it ... I rather wish [it] had come out much sooner, say back in ’92!”
“Absolutely fascinating; I look forward to perusing it in depth."
“Exquisitely researched and documented ... Although scholarly, this book is engagingly written and will fascinate anyone.”
“This book is a ‘must read’ for not only civilian and military intelligence personnel ... but also—definitely—operators and warriors who must utilize intelligence to win in battle.”
“A standard reference and required reading for new naval intelligence officers as well as other intelligence professionals ... I also recommend this book to all who find themselves in command.”
“A fresh perspective on naval operations in the wars of the French Revolution and Empire ... Maffeo takes the focus beyond the ships, fleets, and battles of the era, important as they were, to the wider political, strategic, and diplomatic context ... A thoughtful, stimulating, and important overview."
“Helpful and readable ... [contrasting] with Clausewitz’s well-known disparagement of intelligence on land ... the author portrays information on the enemy as a principal driver of naval operations at all levels ... More reflection is needed on how [the] intelligence dimension fits into the other ideas of military leadership: this book encourages it."
“As a piece of popular history, the book is undoubtedly a success. It surveys the subject fairly completely, it is well written and enlivened by numerous anecdotes, and the author’s professional competence sharpens his analysis."
“A most unusual [and] fascinating book, drawing on many literary examples as well as an absolute wealth of historical case histories ... A refreshingly new perspective ... This is a superlative work on an aspect of naval history as yet largely ignored.”
“A solid examination of naval intelligence 200 years ago ... An unparalleled look at the secret world behind Royal Navy operations during the Age of Sail.”
“I’ve much enjoyed Most Secret and Confidential ... A stimulating read.”
“C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian aficionados, as well as naval history buffs, will want this valuable volume on their shelves.”
“The author writes well and his examples of ‘the real thing’ ... are most readable ... A lively book for the general reader which will deepen understanding of the ways in which naval officers had to think at a time when it might take weeks, or months, for orders to reach them from the Admiralty.”
“Maffeo’s discussion of the attributes that contributed to the success of a commanding or flag officer is most impressive ... The book is the first to address its subject directly, and ... it is a valuable addition to the literature. It reads well, and although its subject matter will appeal to a professional audience, any adult reader will have little difficulty understanding it.”
“A ground-breaking look at a very neglected subject ... Most Secret and Confidential, which is not afraid to use references to the well-researched treatments of such fictionally famous admirals as Hornblower and Aubrey, would make useful reading for anyone interested in sea power in the age of sail, the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon, and the history of intelligence.”
“Maffeo is particularly good at detailing how frigates ... served as the eyes, ears, and mouth of the fleet ... I found one of the more enlightening discussions to be Maffeo’s description of how sparse and small the typical commander’s staff was and, therefore, how personality-dependent such intelligence operations were ... Most Secret and Confidential is a fascinating and rewarding account that would be useful to military officers of all ranks and services.”
“An exceptional study ... [Maffeo’s] knowledge of the history of intelligence operations is excellent, and his knowledge of the British Navy of this era is unsurpassed ... This book is a must read for every intelligence officer or any other member of the military ... [as well as] every serious reader of the history of military intelligence, military and naval history, general history, and naval fiction.”
“A welcome account ... [stemming] from the lucidity of the text, its readability, and the meticulous craft of organization and citation. The book is beautifully produced with appropriate illustrations ... the printing is fault free ... A clear and lively account ... What the volume does that is valuable is to bring together information which, if already known, was widely separated. This makes Maffeo’s account a splendid launching pad for readers who have not read his sources first.”
“An interesting perspective on intelligence as it developed in fairly recent times, providing both a contextual historical update and a professionally relevant focus. Recommended reading, particularly for the history buff.”
“Maffeo’s didactic method is admittedly attractive. He is an engaging author, and his book should attract a readership [particularly] amongst the public who are familiar with the Forester and O’Brian novels.”
“It is instructive to compare the French approach with the British intelligence system of the same era, outlined in the useful study by Steven Maffeo.”
“Maffeo makes interesting points on codes, ciphers and cryptography ... [and his] description of the period’s primitive communications technology, the lack of a structure to service the use and collection of intelligence, and its dispersal among government departments and agencies is lively and engaging, and he correctly emphasizes the role of the commander in the interpretation of intelligence ... The appendices are helpful to those unfamiliar with the period ... Maffeo rightly stresses the importance of newspapers in intelligence gathering.”
“Enlightening. Maffeo provides valuable insight into the workings and arrangement of the British government and the civil management of the Royal Navy.”
“Marvelous insight to the thoughts of some of the era’s most important figures: Bonaparte, Nelson, Pitt, Spencer, and St. Vincent ... they aid our understanding of this rich period and will appeal to all naval history buffs.”