Sherman Kent


Kent, Sherman. "Allen Welsh Dulles: 1893-1969." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 2 (Spring 1969): 1-2.

This is Kent's tribute to his boss, broadly and specifically as it related to analysis.


Kent, Sherman. "A Crucial Estimate Relived." Studies in Intelligence 8, no. 2 (Spring 1964): 1-18. Studies in Intelligence 36, no. 5 (1992): 111-119.

Westerfield: "Kent's account of his greatest mistake: the prediction three weeks before the Cuban missile crisis that Moscow would be unlikely to station missiles in Cuba that could reach much of the United States." See Michael Douglas Smith, "The Perils of Analysis: Revisiting Sherman Kent’s Defense of SNIE 85-3-62." Studies in Intelligence 51, no. 3 (2007). []

[Analysis/Est; GenPostwar/60s/MissileCrisis]

Kent, Sherman. "Death of a Hypothesis." Studies in Intelligence 9, no. 2 (Spring 1965): 21-24.

"[T]he destruction of an interesting hypothesis is often as important a part of our trade as its confirmation."


Kent, Sherman. "The Need for an Intelligence Literature." Studies in Intelligence (Spring 1955): 1-11. Studies in Intelligence: 45th Anniversary Special Edition, Fall 2000, 1-11.

Since the beginning of World War II, "[i]ntelligence has become ... an exactly, highly skilled profession.... Intelligence today ... has developed a body of theory and doctrine; it has elaborate and refined techniques.... What it lacks is a literature.... What I am talking about is a literature dedicated to the analysis of our many-sided calling, and produced by its most knowledgeable devotees.... The literature I have in mind will, among other things, be an elevated debate." [emphasis in original]


Kent, Sherman. Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949. Hamden, CT: Archon, 1965. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966. [pb]

Constantinides notes that this book had "both a wide and a profound influence on the development of U.S. intelligence after World War II." Writing in 1985, Pforzheimer called this book "dated, but not obsolete." That judgment remains valid, as does the description of the work as "still a classic, foresighted early work ... on the theory and ideal operation of national intelligence production." The 1966 paperback edition includes a lengthy preface by Dr. Kent, drawing on his experience as Chairman of the Board of National Estimates.

For a contemporaneous and critical review of Kent's Strategic Intelligence, see Willmoore Kendall, "The Function of Intelligence," World Politics 1, no. 6 (Jul. 1949). Latter day insight on that debate is offered by Jack Davis, "The Kent-Kendall Debate of 1949," Studies in Intelligence 35, no. 2 (Summer 1991): 37-50. See also, Donald P. Steury, ed., Sherman Kent and the Board of National Estimates: Collected Essays (Washington, DC: History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1994).

[Overviews/U.S./To89; WhatIsIntel?]

Kent, Sherman. "Valediction." Studies in Intelligence 12, no. 1 (Winter 1968): 1-11.

The founder of Studies in Intelligence shares his thoughts about leaving the journal's Board of Editors.


Kent, Sherman. "Words of Estimative Probability." Studies in Intelligence 8, no. 4 (Fall 1964): 49-65.

An NIE "should set forth the community's findings in such a way as to make clear to the reader what is certain knowledge and what is reasoned judgment, and within this large realm of judgment what varying degrees of certitude lie behind each key judgment."


Kent, Sherman. "The Yale Report." Studies in Intelligence 17, no. 2 (Summer 1973): 7-21.

An outside "estimate" intended to further a discussion about estimating intentions produces a flap about openness and classification.


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