Under/Cover Reviewer Guidelines



  1. If you would like to review a certain book for The Cipher Brief – please send an email to UnderCover proposing the assignment before submitting the review itself.
  2. We will not authorize you doing a review if the book’s author is a friend of yours
  3. We will not authorize you doing a review if the book’s author is an enemy of yours.
  4. Reviews should, in most cases, run between 600 and 1000 words in length.
  5. If you have some specific expertise that makes you especially well qualified to write that review – please make that clear both in your proposal to get the assignment and in the review itself.
  6. Reviews should assume that the readers are (at a minimum) well-read in national security issues and (quite often) experts themselves.
  7. We prefer to publish reviews books that are about to be published or have just been published. On occasion we will publish reviews of works that have been out for some time. If you see advance publicity for a forthcoming book and would like to read and review it – contact us and, if we have not yet assigned that book, we will contact the publisher and request an advance copy be sent to you for review purposes.
  8. If you have any conflicts of interest (e.g. the same publisher is about to put out a book that YOU wrote) please do not ask to review some other work they are publishing.
  9. If you have some APPARENT conflict of interest – but not a real one – please identify it in your draft.
  10. If you have a requirement to get your writings cleared by some federal government pre- publication review board – please obtain that clearance before submitting the review to us.
  11. No spoilers please. Tell the readers what the book is about – cite what is in it that makes the book noteworthy but don’t ruin the experience.
  12. Please keep your politics out of the review.
  13. If the book is similar to, better than, or less valuable than other books – let us know in the
    context of the review
  14. We have a rating system of one to four “Trench Coats.” If you love the book – give it four trench coats. Hate it…give it one. Etc. We recognize this is subjective, but we value your opinion. We can split the difference…if it is somewhere between a three and a four…we can give it 3.5 trenchcoats.
  15. Note: The Under Cover site is behind The Cipher Brief’s paywall. After publication, however, we will give you a link to a PDF version of your review which you can share with others to let them see your published report.
  16. We are not able to offer financial compensation for reviews, but we are able to provide a complimentary subscription to The Cipher Brief for six months, oh and the added benefit of having your review read by The Cipher Brief’s many expert readers.

Email address: [email protected]