A Spy's Guide to Thinking by John Braddock

A Spy's Guide to Thinking

"Head wounds bleed. All those vessels going to the brain. Carrying nutrients so you can think. Which I hadn’t . . . I was stunned. But I hadn’t lost yet. I still had the phone. And two options." There are a select few people who get things done. Spies are first among them. In a 45 minute read, a former spy introduces two simple tools for thinking. The first describes how w...

Title:A Spy's Guide to Thinking
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Edition Language:English

A Spy's Guide to Thinking Reviews

  • Karol Gajda

    This was well-written (using an interesting back-and-forth literary device) and fun. A book about thinking, zero-sum, negative-sum, and positive-sum games, told through the eyes of a former CIA agent.

    "How you play all the other games depends on what kind of game is the final game."

  • Wil Wheaton

    There's a moderately interesting story in here, about how the author handles a potentially violent encounter on a subway. He wants to show us how he uses a particular type of thinking to make his decisions during the encounter.

    And then he spends a whole chapter of an already short book relitigating the goddamn bogus WMD claims that were used to justify the Iraq war. (Spoiler alert: It wasn't the CIA's fault! No! Really! USA! USA!)

    This ... whatever this is because it isn't a book ... could be an

    There's a moderately interesting story in here, about how the author handles a potentially violent encounter on a subway. He wants to show us how he uses a particular type of thinking to make his decisions during the encounter.

    And then he spends a whole chapter of an already short book relitigating the goddamn bogus WMD claims that were used to justify the Iraq war. (Spoiler alert: It wasn't the CIA's fault! No! Really! USA! USA!)

    This ... whatever this is because it isn't a book ... could be an interesting column in a magazine that you'd read on an airplane, but if you expect to actually learn anything, don't waste your time.

  • philip farah

    Lessons and insights are shallow. Light content. Written as a stream of consciousness. Topic is intriguing however content is poor. Book is more of a chapter than it is a book

  • Kaj Sotala

    Much more examples would have been nice, but it was a nice read for its length and price. I had previously heard about the concept of the OODA loop, and the idea that the person who goes through the loop faster wins, but been unsure of how to apply it. This helped clarify that.

  • SheLove2Read

    Interesting reading. Free if you have Amazon Prime. Not a lot of actual spy information but it's obvious the author is knowledgeable on the subject either by study or by actual employment as a spy. What if found the most interesting is the critical thinking steps the author details. Easily something the average person could employ in everyday life.

  • Amir

    Spy's Guide to thinking offers a framework for effective thinking which is based on experiences of a field spy "John Braddock". I guess this is the guy who convinced white house of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, hence igniting the war.

    The book is organized in four concise chapters:

    I. How to think

    II. What to think about

    III. How others think

    IV. How to think about others

    Author teaches the structure of effective thinking which is the foundation of de

    Spy's Guide to thinking offers a framework for effective thinking which is based on experiences of a field spy "John Braddock". I guess this is the guy who convinced white house of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, hence igniting the war.

    The book is organized in four concise chapters:

    I. How to think

    II. What to think about

    III. How others think

    IV. How to think about others

    Author teaches the structure of effective thinking which is the foundation of decision making from small levels as individuals to gigantic ones as goverments. He argues that thinking in its simplest form is as follows:

    Data > Analysis > Decision > Action

    We collect data, analyze through them, come up with decisions and we take action. Based on the feedback we get from the taken action, we get new data to analyze and further refine our decisions. This is the big picture.

    Data + analysis is what we call intelligence, the info given to the government, cabinet or generals to make the decisions to be acted upon by diplomats, soldiers or spies.

    Thinking through the DADA model is very much similar to the scientific method:

    The interesting thing is that scientists do not start with data collection, rather, the spark off from hypothesis. So to answer "what to think about" we must first come up with decisions we need to make. So for instance:

    In essence, you must have a decision to make to begin with, hence, the thinking loop I mentioned above begins with decision and is like this:

    When dealing with other parties, the first question should always be, "What kind of game do they think we're playing?"

    There are three kinds of games:

    These are conflict games and happen when one player can only gain what the other player gives up.

    These are cooperative games and continue as long as both sides are gaining, or expect to. Like any good marriage or alliance or business partnership, benefits both sides is what keeps it together. When you add up the gains, the result is positive.

    These games are rare, wars of attrition, Verdun, or labor strike. Both sides are losing while each side hopes it's losing less than the other.

    In this chapter the author elaborates a bit on Iraq war's and the whole thing about international community suspecting Iraq being in possession of Weapons of Mass Distruction (WMD). As it turns out, Saddam has been facing two major issues, internal rivals, and the main external one (IRAN). Saddam Wanted Iran to think he had WMD in order to deter attacks while he didn't want anyone inside Iraq to actually possess WMD. Because whoever had the WMD inside Iraq could use it to threaten the Saddam's grip on power.

    So he created a perception of having massive stockpiles of WMD without actually having much.

    Two major pieces of knowledge I grasped from the book is first, the thinking chain as I described above (Data > Analysis > Decision > Action). And the second one is to always start with a question regarding the issue at hand. Simple, yet valuable.

    All in all, this short book if consumed well has merits and due to its potential and conciseness I would definitely recommend it.

  • R. F. Errant

    I got at least three useful points from reading this, which considering the cost and time to read it, is a good value.

    My problem with the book is that his main example does not validate his teaching. In fact, they appear to invalidate them. If the example is the best of his personal experience, which is suggested, you have to wonder if he successfully applied his ideas in real life.

    But before I am too hard on the author, I could make the same criticism of Plat0, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, all of w

    I got at least three useful points from reading this, which considering the cost and time to read it, is a good value.

    My problem with the book is that his main example does not validate his teaching. In fact, they appear to invalidate them. If the example is the best of his personal experience, which is suggested, you have to wonder if he successfully applied his ideas in real life.

    But before I am too hard on the author, I could make the same criticism of Plat0, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, all of which had questionable success in applying their idea. That does not mean, however, others did not find their ideas useful, so the author is in good company.

  • Mscout

    The 45 minute read could have been condensed to 45 words. Or less. A lot less. Most of the text was devoted to a self-congratulatory experience with a tweaker on a train trying to snag the author's phone. I think it was supposed to illustrate how well his DADA system of thinking works, except that it didn't. He was surprised several times when the druggie didn't conform to his expectations (go figure). This is the only work I've read by Braddock, so I don't know if any of the others hold any val

    The 45 minute read could have been condensed to 45 words. Or less. A lot less. Most of the text was devoted to a self-congratulatory experience with a tweaker on a train trying to snag the author's phone. I think it was supposed to illustrate how well his DADA system of thinking works, except that it didn't. He was surprised several times when the druggie didn't conform to his expectations (go figure). This is the only work I've read by Braddock, so I don't know if any of the others hold any value, but I won't be running out to see.

  • Lukas Lovas

    Interesting point of view. The thing I most took from this book is, that some people overthink things. Not a bad thing, but if you're not trained to think fast, you'll end up being a passive observer in most situations, if you try to adapt this approach.

  • Kim

    Nice 45 minute (longer if you ponderize processes) Kindle Single nonfiction topic read on methods of thinking, decision making, and finding answers/information. Turns a very academic explanation of DADA, the OODA loop, scientific method, game sum theory, and etcetera, which other wise could possibly be intellectually dry and long and instead wraps the lessons around an exciting suspenseful dangerous real life CIA field work day anecdote in a Kindle Single size small package.

    Source: Amazon Prime

    Nice 45 minute (longer if you ponderize processes) Kindle Single nonfiction topic read on methods of thinking, decision making, and finding answers/information. Turns a very academic explanation of DADA, the OODA loop, scientific method, game sum theory, and etcetera, which other wise could possibly be intellectually dry and long and instead wraps the lessons around an exciting suspenseful dangerous real life CIA field work day anecdote in a Kindle Single size small package.

    Source: Amazon Prime Reading Loan


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