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Body of Secrets [Hardcover]

James Bamford
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 May 2001
The NSA is the largest, most secretive and most powerful intelligence ageny in the world. It dwarfs the CIA in budgets, manpower and influence. Using internal documents and interviews with NSA officials, this text offers details about the workings of the agency. It exposes the role the NSA played in many Soviet bloc Cold War conflicts and discusses its undercover involvement in the Vietnam War. Author, James Bamford, also looks at the technological advances that the NSA have employed since 1985 and brings to light the NSA's network of global surveillance ranging from on-line listening post to intelligence-gathering satellites. Bamford warns that the NSA is a double-edged sword, its eavesdropping offers the potential for tracking down terrorists and uncovering nuclear weapons deals, but it also has the capacity to listen in on global personal communications.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 740 pages
  • Publisher: Century; First Edition edition (17 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712675981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712675987
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.4 x 5.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 567,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

James Bamford's explosive book, Body of Secrets, not only lifts the lid on the world's most powerful intelligence agency, but warns that it is a double-edged sword. Everybody knows about the CIA--the cloak-and-dagger branch o f the US government. Many fewer are familiar with the National Security Agency, even though it has been more important to American espionage in recent years than its better-known counterpart. The NSA is responsible for much of the intelligence gathering done via technology such as satellites and the Internet. Its home office in Maryland "contains what is probably the largest body of secrets ever created".

Little was known about the agency's confidential culture until veteran journalist James Bamford blew the lid off in 1982 with his bestseller The Puzzle Palace. Still, much remained in the shadows. In Body of Secrets, Bamford throws much more light on his subject--and he reveals loads of shocking information. The story of the U-2 crisis in 1960 is well known, including President Eisenhower's decision to tell a fib to the public in order to protect a national-security secret. Bamford takes the story a disturbing step forward, showing how Eisenhower "went so far as to order his Cabinet officers to hide his involvement in the scandal eve n while under oath. At least one Cabinet member directly lied to the committee, a fact known to Eisenhower". Even more worrisome is another revelation, from the Kennedy years: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the US government. In the name of anticommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba."

Body of Secrets is an incredible piece of journalism, and it paints a deeply troubling portrait of an agency about which the public knows next to nothing. Fans of The Sword and the Shield will want to read it, as will anybody who is intrigued by conspiracies and real-life spy stories. --John J. Miller

Review

‘Bamford has managed…to unearth one major scandal of international dimensions’ -- Literary Review

‘…paced like a Forsyth thriller.’ -- Manchester Evening News --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
A book like Body of Secrets is impossible to rate accurately this soon after publication. If its claims were all true, it would deserve beyond five stars. If its claims were all untrue, it would not deserve one star. With so many sensational claims, surely the truth lies somewhere in between. But where? On the one hand, I don't know. On the other hand, I sure would like to know. These allegations are so serious that they demand verification or refutation by objective parties. To properly reflect my ignorance, I have split the difference and given the book three stars. The only thing I know for sure is that this is the wrong rating for the book. I apologize to the author and to readers for my inability to do better.
From the book's title, a reader might imagine that the subject is a history of the National Security Agency (often referred to as "No Such Agency"). This organization provides the bulk of signal and electronic intelligence gathering and code breaking for the United States.
I was attracted to the book because I love reading about how codes are broken and countermeasures developed. Well, there's almost nothing about the details of either subject here. But the book got off to a fast start for me by identifying that the United States had a commanding edge in code breaking between 1945 and 1948 due to piggy backing on the expertise of captured Germans who had broken the main Soviet codes and those of many other countries. In many other places in the book, there are excellent descriptions of how technology was used to capture electronic information and the locations of defensive bases in the former Soviet Union.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
A book like Body of Secrets is impossible to rate accurately this soon after publication. If its claims were all true, it would deserve beyond five stars. If its claims were all untrue, it would not deserve one star. With so many sensational claims, surely the truth lies somewhere in between. But where? On the one hand, I don't know. On the other hand, I sure would like to know. These allegations are so serious that they demand verification or refutation by objective parties. To properly reflect my ignorance, I have split the difference and given the book three stars. The only thing I know for sure is that this is the wrong rating for the book. I apologize to the author and to readers for my inability to do better.
From the book's title, a reader might imagine that the subject is a history of the National Security Agency (often referred to as "No Such Agency"). This organization provides the bulk of signal and electronic intelligence gathering and code breaking for the United States.
I was attracted to the book because I love reading about how codes are broken and countermeasures developed. Well, there's almost nothing about the details of either subject here. But the book got off to a fast start for me by identifying that the United States had a commanding edge in code breaking between 1945 and 1948 due to piggy backing on the expertise of captured Germans who had broken the main Soviet codes and those of many other countries. In many other places in the book, there are excellent descriptions of how technology was used to capture electronic information and the locations of defensive bases in the former Soviet Union.
Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't do what it says on the tin! 6 Jun 2005
Format:Paperback
"Body of Secrets: How America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ Eavesdrop On The World". Really? As a British reader I was interested in how GCHQ operates; you'll learn virtually nothing buying this book! This is essentially a history of the U.S. intelligence services with some passing references to "foreign" agencies such as GCHQ. Don't get me wrong, this is a well researched and interesting book but it isn't what it claims to be. Interestingly the U.S. version of the book is entitled "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency", so it would appear that the U.K. version is simply a re-badged version of this one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dynamite in places 23 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback
Generally a fairly dry and relatively neutral history of the NSA. It should be noted there is very little in the way of description of GCHQ except for passing references to co-operation with NSA and other US agencies. As an engineer currently working with fibre-optic data systems, much of which are carried on submarine cables, I was especially interested to read about development of underwater surveillance techniques, especially in light of the unprecedented multiple subsea cable cuts in April 2008 and early 2009.

Body Of Secrets is probably now most known for its exposure of Operation Northwoods, an early 1960s plan to provoke war with Cuba by murdering US citizens in various fiendish ways and blaming Cuba. To proponents of the theory that the 9/11 attacks were the work of the US government rather than the fictional AL Qaeda, Operation Northwoods provides a stunningly similar precedent which, although not used at the time, may well have been dusted off and revised for the 21st Century. The book also has an interesting history of the development of supercomputers for security purposes in the USA; one can only imagine what kind of world we would live in if the same effort had been put into uniting, rather than dividing, mankind.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets of power
The costs beyond compression , internal power struggles, who controls the seperate power angencys of America congress, the president or no one.
Published 1 month ago by arthur thexton
5.0 out of 5 stars REVIEW: BODY OF SECRETS BY JAMES BAMFORD
'Body of Secrets' must surely be the ultimate work of reference, both for current employees of the NSA and as a valuable source of informed knowledge for those seeking employment... Read more
Published on 10 April 2010 by Christopher jj Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Read
For those who are interested in the ways of the Intellignce world this is an excellent read.
Published on 4 Mar 2010 by P. Waller
3.0 out of 5 stars Semi-official history leaves too much unasked or unanswered
Having an interest in intelligence matters and knowing nothing about the activities of the United States' National Security Agency, I really wanted to like this book. Read more
Published on 1 July 2008 by Mr. Tristan Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars In God we trust, all others we monitor
This book explains the functioning of the ultra-secret spy organization, the National Security Agency (NSA = No Such Agency), in a more or less hagiographic way: its enormous... Read more
Published on 18 May 2006 by Luc REYNAERT
3.0 out of 5 stars Allegations of High Crimes, Murder, and Fatal Negligence
A book like Body of Secrets is impossible to rate accurately this soon after publication. If its claims were all true, it would deserve beyond five stars. Read more
Published on 8 July 2004 by Donald Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and shocking
A truly captivating book. Fantastically well researched. The book flows more like a novel than an extended piece of research. Read more
Published on 3 Dec 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant exposure of US/British spookery
The author of this remarkable and comprehensive book on the US government's National Security Agency has unearthed evidence of 'what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by... Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2003 by William Podmore
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on this hidden area of history
Read The chapter on the suppresion of US soldiers killed by Isreal...WoW. Also the in comparison to "the code breakers" take on Quantom computers the NSA take is as usual 2 steps... Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Body of Secrets
This book can be very interesting if you think you would enjoy learning about NSA and GCHQ methods and thought processes. Read more
Published on 26 Sep 2002 by Md Chamberlain
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