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Book The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama

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The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    David Priess(Author),George H. W. Bush(Foreword)

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Every president has had a unique and complicated relationship with the intelligence community. While some have been coolly distant, even adversarial, others have found their intelligence agencies to be among the most valuable instruments of policy and power.

Since John F. Kennedy's presidency, this relationship has been distilled into a personalized daily report: a short summary of what the intelligence apparatus considers the most crucial information for the president to know that day about global threats and opportunities. This top–secret document is known as the President's Daily Brief, or, within national security circles, simply “the Book.” Presidents have spent anywhere from a few moments (Richard Nixon) to a healthy part of their day (George W. Bush) consumed by its contents; some (Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush) consider it far and away the most important document they saw on a regular basis while commander in chief.

The details of most PDBs are highly classified, and will remain so for many years. But the process by which the intelligence community develops and presents the Book is a fascinating look into the operation of power at the highest levels. David Priess, a former intelligence officer and daily briefer, has interviewed every living president and vice president as well as more than one hundred others intimately involved with the production and delivery of the president's book of secrets. He offers an unprecedented window into the decision making of every president from Kennedy to Obama, with many character–rich stories revealed here for the first time.

Dr. David Priess served during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations as an award-winning intelligence officer, manager, and daily intelligence briefer at the CIA, as well as a desk officer at the State Department. He obtained his PhD in political science from Duke University and has published articles in journals such as Security Studies, Middle East Policy, and the Mershon International Studies Review, as well as book reviews and eclectic articles in outlets ranging from Foreword to Skeptic. Priess is currently director of analytic services for Analytic Advantage, Inc., offering specialized training, mentoring, and consulting services to the intelligence community, other government offices, and the private sector.

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Review Text

  • By Carbonlord on February 23, 2016

    Dr. David Priess served as a former State Department intelligence officer during both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. In his book, he tries to let us peer into a history of the president’s daily intelligence briefing.The book starts off with a Foreword by President George H. W. Bush, stating that his love of the position as Director of the CIA, was “All about the remarkable men and women who make up our intelligence community. Their dedication, their courage, and their determination match that of no others and inspired me every single day.”President Bush further details “That their names are seldom known and their accomplishments are rarely celebrated.”Every single day, a CIA officer starts their day around 2 a.m. at CIA headquarters speaking with various analysts from the seventeen organizations that make up the “Intelligence Community.” They study the late breaking raw assessments and even classified stories that did not make it past their editors and tucks it away in a locked briefcase and then travel to the White House to deliver a summary of international events.This is called the Presidential Daily Brief and it contains the very latest and most sensitive reporting of the intelligence community. This can vary from what is transpiring within the Central Intelligence agency to the National Security Agency, our satellites and anything in between.For the past fifty years, starting with President Truman and traveling throughout generations of previous presidents up to today. Some presidents chose not to use it, such as Kennedy and some rely heavily on it, but it has evolved into what it is today, an absolute necessity.This top secret information is known as the President’s Daily Brief, or simply the “Book” or “The Book of Secrets.” While some Presidents didn’t care for it, some other Presidents were consumed by it. Although the details of the “Book” are highly classified, Priess interviewed every living president and vice president and hundreds of people that were closely involved with the production of it. He takes us on a journey throughout history, highlighting various Presidents and how they viewed or used their “Book of Secrets.”This book, unfortunately is not a view of the secrets contained within, but more of a look into how each President used and disseminated the information, during their presidency.Priess recounts and takes us through the origins of the intelligence community, such as when President Roosevelt first started us in the intelligence field with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the Office of Research and Analysis (R&A), which really started the compiling of our intelligence gathering into reports. He tells how President Truman created the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) and how they created the “Daily Summary” report.He furthers goes on to explain that from that era, right up until 2005, that Directors of Central Intelligence (DCIs) managed the intelligence community and the CIA. That with the Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act, came an effective splitting these duties to create a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and a Director of the CIA (DCIA)Priess tells us that for the most time, the book had been an inside secret to the inner sanctum, while a mystery to most people. this changed with President Obama, due to the media scrutiny of how he chose to use it at irregular intervals, instead of a true daily briefing with the intelligence community, as it was intended.It was an easy read of my Advanced Readers Copy of this book and it was very interesting as I yanked through the pages, yearning for more details or even a hint of secrets. I enjoyed it very much and I look forward to attending his local signing of my book, next month, when he does his book tour for the release.

  • By Joe on July 18, 2016

    This isn't the greatest book I have read, but due to my personal interests was still good. It provided very good insight into each president and how the intel shaped each term. As you would expect very little classified details, however he did include released info to support the story.

  • By SRWard on March 4, 2016

    The President’s Book of Secrets is an engaging, well-told history of how the President and the Executive Branch shape and are influenced by the intelligence they receive almost every day through the President’s Daily Brief (PDB). David Priess’ work also presents the lengths to which the CIA and the larger Intelligence Community will go to serve the specific needs and preferences of each Commander-in-Chief. Filled with anecdotes and first-hand accounts from interviews with former Presidents, CIA officials, and PDB briefers, this is as close to an insider’s view of the PDB process that you will ever find. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Presidency, foreign and national security policy, and intelligence.

  • By JR on July 15, 2016

    Well written, but a little tedious. Interesting to see how different presidents handled and responded to their daily intelligence brief.

  • By Ann Todd on June 27, 2016

    This fabulous book is not only a history of the PDB, but a window into the personalities of the presidents it serves and the almost intimate relationship between the officers of the CIA and their Commander in Chief. In his book "Burn Before Reading," former Agency director Stansfield Turner wrote, "Intelligence services get their light and air from the chief executive." Priess does an excellent job of describing the impact of each president's personality on the process of streamlining massive volume of daily intelligence down to a manageable size. The real heroes in this story are the CIA's analysts, that unknown and unseen army working around the clock to reduce a firehose of information to something the President can read while eating his breakfast. Priess has taken an inanimate object and created a real page-turner for students of intelligence, consumers of presidential biographies, and anyone who enjoys a good read.

  • By Brian S on January 23, 2017

    Excellent book covering the modern day struggle with providing the President of the United States with intelligence. This is a timely read, especially as President Trump was in the news regarding his transition, and now that he has taken office. More broadly, David identifies the difficulty in providing unique insight to senior leadership, both thoughout their tenure, and as technology replaces and "trumps" many/most of the traditional intelligence agencies and disciplines. It will be interesting how President Trump engages the Intelligence Community, and how it responds by providing unique and unparalleled intelligence thorough a variety of standing and ad hoc products and services.

  • By Sam Turner on August 10, 2016

    The book is an exceptional read, especially if you have been interested in political knowledge transfer since Kennedy. Easy read, entertaining and references stories that are historically memorable to let you see inside the oval office and how decisions are made with a broad amount of data..Iy enables a broader perspective. It is an especially insightful read if you are responsible for "gisting down" business or political impacting data for Senior Leaders or Political Leaders.

  • By Smalls on July 8, 2017

    This book has interesting glimpses of how presidents have organized their schedules, their priorities and their offices. It's also a little study of how some very famous people like to absorb information. Although the book touches on several of the CIA's notable failures, it is not about strategy or policy. It is about the nuts and bolts of getting a briefing book in front of the president every day. It's not big. It's little but it's interesting and worth some time.


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