American Covert Operations

A Guide to the Issues

by J. Ransom Clark


Almost every president has used covert tactics and special operations.

Print Flyer
Cover image for American Covert Operations

July 2015


Pages 224
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/U.S. Defense Policy and Programs
  Military History/Military Strategy

Traces our country's long history of covert and special operations, focusing on the similarities and differences in the practice from the Revolutionary War to the present.

Long before the creation of the CIA, the American government utilized special intelligence strategies with varying degrees of success. Even though critics throughout time have questioned the effectiveness and legitimacy of these tactics, presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama have employed secret operations to benefit the nation's best interest. This book follows America's history of intelligence gathering, undercover operations, and irregular warfare. Through chronologically organized chapters, the author examines secret military maneuvers, highlighting the elements common to covert and special operations across historical eras, and concluding with a chapter on national security since the attacks of September 11, 2001.


    • References literature supporting both sides of the special and covert operations debate
    • Explains how covert operations is used as a tool of American foreign policy
    • Examines the changes in covert operations since the attacks of September 11, 2001
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Covering global hot spots from Iran to Venezuela and subjects ranging from terrorism and cyber warfare to food security, books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, academic researchers, journalists, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth analysis and international perspectives that are unavailable in the mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and policymakers as well as for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

J. Ransom Clark, JD, served 25 years with the Central Intelligence Agency, including assignments in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Washington, DC; and 15 years as faculty member and administrator at Muskingum University, New Concord, OH. His published writing includes Praeger's Intelligence and National Security: A Reference Handbook and ongoing work at his website at He received his juris doctorate from George Mason University School of Law.

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