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Getting It Right for the First Customer

Paul Pope Oct 27, 2016

Intelligence Studies Project Senior Fellow and Clinical Professor at the LBJ School Paul Pope reviews David Priess's The President's Book of Secrets for Lawfare Blog. 

In his review, Professor Pope highlights that "most of the history of U.S. intelligence and its interplay with executive policy decisions has yet to be written." Thus, Priess's new book fills a vacuum in historical literature on the President's Daily Briefs (PDB). In fact, only recently did the CIA release declassified PDB's from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in an event at the LBJ Library in September 2015.  

Professor Pope remarks that "Priess’s telling of the story reveals both extreme idiosyncrasies, such as Johnson working much of the day from his bedroom, and endearing humility, such as the incoming President Ford making instant coffee for his briefer and then, as president, insisting that his staff allocate a chunk of time each day for an oral briefing because he was a better listener than a reader." However, he concludes that "the greatest strength of The President’s Book of Secrets, though, is that it enables readers to compare and contrast presidents, sharpening our understanding of them as individuals in ways perhaps more revealing than even exhaustive treatments of particular incumbents might convey."

Paul Pope's full review can be found here