In This Review

Practice to Deceive: Learning Curves of Military Deception Planners
Practice to Deceive: Learning Curves of Military Deception Planners
By Barton Whaley
Naval Institute Press, 2016, 256 pp

This unusual book collects 88 short case studies put together by the late Whaley, who wrote extensively on strategic deception, to inform military officers in that particular art. In these writings, Whaley was less interested in whether the actions in question were successful than in their conception and implementation. Whaley offers advice on how to institutionalize the practice of deception and leavens his guidance with a sense of humor rarely witnessed in discussions of such matters. Whaley recounts various ruses, such as pretending that a big move is imminent (or, alternatively, that one has been delayed), and discusses the use of double agents. Many of his examples are taken from World War II, when militaries (especially the British one) had a better appreciation than they do today of the benefits of misleading opponents about one’s real intentions and strengths. This enjoyable guide to the more mischievous side of military history will have enduring value for instructional purposes—and also as a tribute to one of the great students of the subject.