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
From the Back Cover
A gripping exploration of the last great unknown realm of the British secret service: Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ).
GCHQ is the successor to Bletchley Park and is the largest and most secretive intelligence organisation in the country. Since the end of the Cold War, it has played a pivotal role in shaping Britain's secret state. Still, we know almost nothing about it.
In this ground-breaking new book, Richard Aldrich traces GCHQ's evolution from a wartime code-breaking operation based in the Bedfordshire countryside to one of the world’s leading espionage organisations.
Packed to the brim with dramatic spy stories – including secret submarine missions, hidden tunnels dug to tap phones and Soviet moles – GCHQ also explores the organisation’s role in tackling some of the most troubling issues of our time: Al Qaeda, privacy and surveillance. Revelatory and brilliantly written, this is the crucial missing link in Britain’s intelligence history.
‘Richard J. Aldrich is an outstanding analyst and historian of intelligence … an important book’ Sunday Times--This text refers to the Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Like most former employees of GCHQ, I did not have much idea of what went on outside my particular section. To satisfy my curiosity I have read all three recently published volumes on this notorious establishment, of which this, as a serious history, is the most weighty. That such a detailed account was needed is undeniable, considering the major contribution to our national survival made by this band of dedicated codebreakers, as we now know them to be, coupled with its reputation as "The last British secret".
Every significant event in its development is charted, from its beginnings in 1919 as the Government Code and Cypher School, through the years of the second world war when a massively expanded team at Bletchley Park cracked the Nazi Enigma code, to modern times when the former business of monitoring foreign states has to a large degree been overtaken by the need to combat terrorism and international crime.
The extent to which information derived by GCHQ has played a part in international happenings will be a revelation to many. It is plain that in the modern world this country still needs effective monitoring, or Sigint as it is known, to protect its interests. However not all will approve the way in which the emphasis is now on recording details of all electronic communications, and of the individual citizens who send and receive them, enabled by astronomical computing power. There are moral questions here, as well as our willingness to devote serious resources to acquiring the technology, much of which already exists. In this respect it is fortunate that the British have long enjoyed a policy of sharing Sigint with the United States, and it could well be that we will ultimately be dependent on it.
The information about some of the big stories of the last century are fascinating - the General Belgrano where SIGINT had picked up a command for it to proceed to task force and sink British ships, and its zig zag course meant that it was true when the Argentinians said it was outside exclusion zone, and sailing away from Falkland islands at the time it was hit. There was no other real decision for the British commanders to take.
As someone who lives in Cheltenham, it is great to see some of the big episodes of GCHQ, and also the relationship with the US.
First class book and to be recommended for anyone with an interest in this area!
What I liked in particular was how easy the book is to read; not at all bogged down in detail as some books on intelligence services can be. Indeed it is written in quite a lively style which makes it easy to cover the ground quickly.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a better understanding of the role of communications and signals intelligence in the events of the decades since the end of the war.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pages filled with jaw-dropping revelations, and wide-grin reveals of plots hidden just beneath the surface of everyday life. Read morePublished 1 month ago by TN-D
Bought as a present. Recipient had requested it as a present and appreciated it.Published 3 months ago by Sandman
A bunch of knowledgeable lecture professionally laid out in this book. Great authorship.Published 3 months ago by J.L
A very comprehensive expose in some respects but not as harmful as some others.Published 9 months ago by T Pawson
A bore a second. Mr Smith met Mr Bloggs but Mr Frosty didn't approve until 1956 when Miss Smythe arranged a meeting in Cambridge in the former sausage factory that was once a... Read morePublished 9 months ago by A. Tonkin
Very interesting read and fillled in alot of missing bits of history for me.Published 10 months ago by Mr Paul Charles Chamberlain