About this event

Joint Special Operations University Office for Strategic Engagement is proud to present a ThinkJSOU video with Dr. Rory Cormac. Dr. Jeffrey Rogg discussed his new book "How to Stage a Coup: And Ten Other Lessons from the World of Secret Statecraft."  The discussion continues to range from the inspiration for the book and the research that went into it and his next book, to the current and historical covert actions of global competitors (US, UK, Russia, China).  

Book Summary: Today's world is in flux. Competition between the great powers is back on the agenda and governments around the world are turning to secret statecraft and the hidden hand to navigate these uncertain waters. From poisonings to electoral interference, subversion to cyber sabotage, states increasingly operate in the shadows, while social media has created new avenues for disinformation on a mass scale.

 This is covert action: perhaps the most sensitive - and controversial - of all state activity. However, for all its supposed secrecy, it has become surprisingly prominent - and it is something that has the power to affect all of us.

In an enthralling and urgent narrative packed with real-world examples, Rory Cormac reveals how such activity is shaping the world and argues that understanding why and how states wield these dark arts has never been more important.

The views expressed in this interview are entirely the opinions of the participants. They do not represent the views of the United States Government, Department of Defense, United States Special Operations Command, or the Joint Special Operations University.


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Jeffrey Rogg
Jeffrey Rogg

Jeff Rogg is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Intelligence and JIIM at Joint Special Operations University. His research interests include U.S. intelligence history, civil-intelligence relations, comparative intelligence, and national security policy. Jeff is currently revising his book manuscript, The Spy and the State: The Story of American Intelligence, which is under contract with Oxford University Press.

Jeff has published articles in the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence and Intelligence and National Security. He has authored and co-authored book chapters on comparative intelligence and U.S. intelligence oversight. Jeff’s work has also appeared in Just Security, The Washington Post, The National Interest, and the Los Angeles Times.

Jeff sits on the editorial board of the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. He also currently serves as the Communications Director/Newsletter Editor for the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association and the Virtual Brown Bag Coordinator for the North American Society for Intelligence History.

Prior to his position at JSOU, Jeff was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Intelligence and Security Studies at The Citadel. He completed a postdoctoral teaching and research fellowship in the National Security Affairs Department at the U.S. Naval War College. Jeff served for six years in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. He is a graduate of US Army Airborne School and Air Assault School.


Ph.D. History (The Ohio State University)
M.A. Security Studies (Georgetown University School of Foreign Service)
J.D. (Villanova University)
B.A. Latin, Ancient History (Swarthmore College)

Rory Cormac
Rory Cormac

Rory Cormac is a Professor of International Relations specialising in Secret Intelligence and Covert Action. Rory has written six books, most recently, HOW TO STAGE A COUP and 10 Other Lessons from the World of Secret Statecraft (Atlantic, 2022).


Alongside Richard J. Aldrich, he has researched and fronted three documentaries for Channel 4: Spying on the Royals (2017), D-Day: The King who Fooled Hitler (2019) and The Queen and the Coup (2020). He has appeared at the Hay, Cheltenham and Edinburgh Literary Festivals, and regularly features in national and international media outlets, including most UK newspapers, BBC Breakfast, BBC 5Live, BBC Radio 4, BBC History Magazine, and, in America, NBC and National Geographic.


Rory has spoken at the UK Cabinet Office, Home Office, Number 10 and Ministry of Defence, as well as the US State Department and Pentagon.

In 2018, he held a Leverhulme International Academic Fellowship based at Johns Hopkins University. Between 2015 and 2017, he held an AHRC Fellowship examining British approaches to covert action, 1945-1968. Rory is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Before joining Nottingham, Rory worked at the University of Warwick and King's College London.