The Intelligence Analysis Bookshelf

Powerful Bookshelves Series

Christina Lekati
8 min readDec 19, 2020

This is the first out of a series of articles that I will post about some of the most noteworthy books I have come across. These are books that made a positive impact in my self-development personally or professionally and I hope they can have a positive impact on you, too.

Intelligence analysis along with the -INT disciplines (OSINT, HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, MASINT) have for a very long time been considered the cornerstones of certain governmental job positions. Intelligence collection and analysis typically aimed to protect high value information and other assets owned by governments.

Within the past few years however, the intelligence collection efforts have expanded significantly and have shifted their focus to including corporations and other types of organizations. The more powerful and wealthy non-governmental organizations become, the more threat actors target them and seek to collect information to facilitate their attacks through the intelligence disciplines once used to serve national interests. The more threat actors utilize these disciplines, the more critical it becomes for these organizations to understand these methods and to use them for defensive security purposes.

Good intelligence work becomes increasingly more significant. Therefore, whether you are an intelligence professional working in the domains of cyber threat analysis, fraud investigations, cyber investigations, law enforcement, national security and other related professions or simply want to improve your critical thinking and analytical skills, this book list is for you.

As an intelligence professional your most critical asset is your brain. But just having one will not make you a good analyst. The mind is a tool. You have to invest in it, exercise it, think about your thinking, and improve your mental processes. You will ultimately need to be able to synthesize divergent information from different sources. You will need to be able to “paint a picture” with incomplete information and create meaningful and accurate links, in a way that can be used to anticipate and prevent illicit activity.

Use the books provided below to challenge your mind and develop it. Changing your way of thinking will be uncomfortable and will require a higher energy expenditure on your part. But it will get easier with time. What is so beautiful about our brains is their neuroplasticity. This is their ability to reorganize themselves and create new “thinking pathways” based on experience, life changes and learning. It is a process that happens anyway as we progress through life. But what is important in our case, is that one can guide this process and sharpen their minds through learning, will, and effort.

Read these books to learn from the experiences of others. Read and challenge what you read. Think on it. Remember that knowledge isn’t power — it is the potential of power and therefore you need to apply what you learn. Experiment with it. Play around. And enjoy the process.

It is time to think about your thinking.

  1. Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis by Randolph H. Pherson & Richards J. Heuer Jr.

An industry standard for intelligence analysis. This is one of the most frequently recommended books — and for a good reason — you will probably not find a more comprehensive book on the topic. The methods and techniques provided are timeless and you are likely to make use of them frequently and on multiple scenarios. If you only read one book on the topic read this one.

Having said that, do not get too comfortable and try to read additional books.

2. Critical Thinking for Strategic Intelligence by Katherine Hibbs Pherson & Randolph H. Pherson

This book is considered a complementary reading to the previous one (“Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis”). It expands on on the topic of forming the right questions throughout your intelligence collection and analysis but also on how to effectively report and communicate your findings to to third parties. Do not expect to find too many stories, examples, or fluff. But you can expect the insights to be solid and to provide you with some good guidance for your work.

3. Cases in Intelligence Analysis: Structured Analytic Techniques in Action by Sarah Beebe & Randolph H. Pherson

Another complementary book to the “Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis” (which you might have suspected, if you happened to observe that Randolph H. Pherson is the common denominator in all the three books mentioned so far). This book was intended to provide some usable case scenarios for intelligence analysis classes. While the methods for analysis apply to most scenarios including the corporate world, the cases in the book provide examples mostly from the fields of law enforcement, homeland security etc. It allows students and beginners to apply the theory from the previous books on more realistic case scenarios, and then read the authors’ analysis & recommendations.

4. Psychology of Intelligence Analysis by Richards J. Heuer Jr.

Personally, this is one of my favorite books on cognitive biases. Although it was first published in 1999 the principles and exercises in this book are mostly timeless and thoroughly, scientifically explained. This is another industry standard for analysts. It analyzes cognitive biases, our mental limitations, and provides strategies on how to effectively process information despite them.

  • You can also find a .pdf format of this book online for free here.

5. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

If you are interested in cognitive biases but want a lighter and more entertaining read, this is the one. This book is full of easily understood and easily remembered examples / small stories tied with proven research on our neuroscience and what the author calls our “cognitive errors”. It is a fast and pleasant read but also very educational.

It does not however, provide guidance on how to improve reasoning processes, structure your thoughts and how to actually “think clearly”.

6. Critical Thinking: Your Guide to Effective Argument, Successful Analysis and Independent Study by Tom Chatfield

An intelligence analyst must have good critical thinking skills. This book is an accessible introduction into the topic. It explains difficult concepts in an easily understood and well-structured manner. Most importantly, it analyzes three highly useful types of reasoning: the inductive, deductive, and abductive. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you will appreciate those chapters. On an interesting note, this book makes sure to include a section on the way our reasoning is being affected by the current technologies and the algorithms that make sure to expose us to specific, curated information instead of providing us access to impartial information. Overall, it is a thoroughly developed book on thinking critically that is well worth the read.

7. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life by Nancy Cavender, Howard Kahane & Frank Boardman

If you want a deep dive on developing better reasoning skills, using deduction and induction (remember Sherlock) and overall improving your critical thinking skills, consider this book. Other than improving your thinking and analytical skills, it helps the reader become a more effective communicator — either verbally or in e.g. report writing — and to better understand the world we all live in. Note: this is a textbook often given as a college class reading material and the formatting will remind you of your student years. Some chapters are more relevant than others. You can read it in a selective manner. Opt for the 12th edition.

8. Deception: Counterdeception and Counterintelligence by Robert M. Clark & Dr. William L. Mitchell

It is not unusual for intelligence professionals to fall into deception traps in their intelligence collection & analysis processes. This is the most interesting book I have come across on this topic. It does an excellent job describing the backbone and principles of deception operations which are applicable in every domain and through the different “-INT disciplines”. The book follows a case-based approach through historical and current cases and examples. By knowing the tactics, you can recognize the signs and improve your judgment. The last chapters cover deception detection and include exercises. Taking a look at the table of contents will give you a good understanding as to why this is a book I highly recommend.

This list is not exhaustive and I will most probably keep updating it. These are only some of the books that I have read and found useful or thought provoking — I hope that you will, too. If you have come across other books that you consider noteworthy, please do mention them in the comments and explain the reason why you recommend them. Happy reading!

If you are a law enforcement investigator, threat analyst, criminologist, fraud analyst, investigative journalist or a curious intelligence professional interested in learning more around intelligence collection & analysis take a look at our upcoming course “Fundamentals of Cyber Investigations & Human Intelligence”. This will be a 2-day, online interactive course delivered on the 29th-30th of June, 2021.

We will be teaching essential techniques & methodologies in Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), Social Media Intelligence (SOCMINT) and Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and on how to combine the three disciplines for optimal results using examples and exercises.

To view the course outline and to register you may visit:



Christina Lekati

Practicing and interconnecting my big passions: Social Engineering, Psychology, HUMINT & OSINT, for the sake of better cybersecurity & to help keep others safe.