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on 2 March 2013
The pleasure of this magnificent book lies not only in the stream of fascinating stories and facts, but in the way that these are woven into political history and occurrences around the world at the time. One might have been tempted to suspect that comint, sigint and elint were natural followers of Parkinson's Law, but constant references in the book to both failures and successes illustrate well the need to be ahead of the curve in our permanently troubled times. The book is littered with stories of inter-service rivalry, here and abroad. Awareness of others' intelligence gathering capabilities and endless horse-trading appear to have greatly contributed to the maintenance of balance of power. The ever-changing relationship between the UK and US intelligence communities and the so-called `special relationship' is covered to the extent that the book's title could well have integrated this aspect. We all know how often information we were not supposed to learn is usually more important than that which we are told; this book explains why.
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on 4 June 2013
GCHQ by Richard Aldrich is a veritable tome of information. The Author is a Professor of History and this is reflected in the style of his book, at times it reads almost like a never-ending list of historical events and utterances.

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.
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VINE VOICEon 6 December 2013
Having served time in the army and worked for this mob it was interesting to read this book which is a good background to the establishment and the work they do in various geographic locations and the service units they employ to do the 'out of area'stuff,this really is a book of They know that we know that they know,and so it goes on beyond the cold war.
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on 21 February 2014
A very good read. Whether very accurate or not is not for me to say, as I'm just a retired professional businessman. However, I feel that I now have a very much better idea of what happened and happens in the world of "spooks", etc. and long may it all live. I am highly amused with all the outrageous foot stamping going on about the NSA, GCHQ listening in on mobile phones, etc. Its obviously been going on for yonks, and if it helps keep me alive long may it go on. Thank you Mr. Aldrich for a first class book.
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on 14 December 2012
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend. It is very interesting and really makes you think about the wider intelligence community and geo politics.
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.
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on 22 March 2018
tis a book
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on 25 January 2014
Having worked at 'The Secret Spy Base' (Gloucestershire Echo, commonly used term),

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'
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on 21 June 2015
I have always been fascinated with this Intelligence gathering going back to the Bletchley Park era and this book covers that very well.
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.
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on 19 July 2013
The subject of this book is extremely topical at the moment and is simply amazing, it is a very detailed history of the service and helps you understand the challenges it and the UK and its allies have faced over the years.

A must read for anybody even remotely interested in this topic.
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on 23 October 2013
A very good and well-documented account of GCHQ and the history of intelligence in the broader sense.

One or two minor inaccuracies, but still a good read - as far as the 25% I've already read - it's a big book..

Well worth the modest price.
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