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GCHQ Hardcover – 10 Jun 2010
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Praise for ‘The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence’:
‘Rivetting, and essential reading not only for intelligence specialists but for everyone interested in the Cold War and in British-American relations.’ Christopher Andrew
‘A triumph of assiduous research and cogent analysis.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Aldrich's meticulously factual account of British and American spookery…is hugely impressive.’ John Booth, Tribune
‘A truly brilliant book…this is intelligence for adults, and all the more enthralling for it.’ George Walden, Evening Standard
About the Author
Richard Aldrich is a regular commentator on war and espionage and has written for the ‘Evening Standard’, the ‘Guardian’, ‘The Times’ and the ‘Telegraph’. He is the author of several books, including ‘The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence’ which won the Donner Book Prize in 2002.
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While the book claims to be an uncensored history of GCHQ, it is important to keep in mind that the sources and historical opinions are largely UK centric. In this respect the book does not provide a wider critical analysis of GCHQ or the role of state surveillance.
I particularly enjoyed the last 100 pages, which chart GCHQ's transition from spying on foreign governments to spying on the civilian population, this highlights a general trend of the Security Services transitioning from the enemy abroad, to the enemy within. With the end of the cold war and a continual decrease in what are deemed rouge or unfriendly states, Western Secret Services have in the past twenty years transitioned from seeing their enemies as foreign states to inventing new enemies in their own populations.
Technology has now made it possible for our governments to record our every move in the digital domain, which provides them with an unprecedented picture of us as individuals. To unleash what are essentially arms of the military on your own civilian population is an extremely worrying development. The Armed Forces have a certain mode of thinking, which in many respects is completely alien to its civilian counterpart and is very likely to lead to complete disaster.
The book is nicely structured and follows a logical path through time. With that you also get the subtle advances in technology that naturally evolved over time. You really feel like you are on a journey.
I bought this on Kindle and when I saw a physical copy in a shop I couldnt believe how big it was. Not that you notice when you read it but be warned, it is not a quick read.
For the best part of 30 years, I look forward to finding out exactly what I did there.
The reviews are terriffic.
I do miss it, dear Oakley Site , 'C Block'
I purchased this book as someone left a comment that its written in such a way that it makes it very easy to follow and understand, that's true and probably why I enjoyed so much.
A must read for anybody even remotely interested in this topic.
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