Vendor
Andrew Lownie
Original language
English
Original title
GCHQ
Themas
21st century, c 2000 to c 2100Espionage & secret servicesEuropean history
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GCHQ

The uncensored story of Britain´s Most Secret Intelligence Agency

by

GCHQ is the successor to the famous Bletchley Park wartime code-breaking organisation and is the largest and most secretive intelligence organisation in the country. During the war, it commanded more staff than MI5 and MI6 combined and has produced a number of intelligence triumphs, as well as some notable failures. 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, staffed by eccentric crossword puzzlers, to one of the world′s leading espionage organisations. It is packed full of dramatic spy stories that shed fresh light on Britain′s role in the Cold War -- from the secret tunnels dug beneath Vienna and Berlin to tap Soviet phone lines, and daring submarine missions to gather intelligence from the Soviet fleet, to the notorious case of Geoffrey Pine, one of the most damaging moles ever recruited by the Soviets inside British intelligence. The book reveals for the first time how GCHQ operators based in Cheltenham affected the outcome of military confrontations in far-flung locations such as Indonesia and Malaya, and exposes the shocking case of three GCHQ workers who were killed in an infamous shootout with terrorists while working undercover in Turkey.

Today′s GCHQ struggles with some of the most difficult issues of our time. A leading force of the state′s security efforts against militant terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda, they are also involved in fundamental issues that will mould the future of British society. Compelling and revelatory, Aldrich′s book is the crucial missing link in Britain′s intelligence history.

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Comments

Sunday Times Review

  • "Richard J Aldrich is an outstanding analyst and historian of intelligence, and he tells this story well... This is an important book, which will make readers think uncomfortably not only about the state’s power to monitor our lives, but also about the appalling vulnerability of every society in thrall to communications technology, as we are."
  • Max Hastings, Sunday Times


Reviews: Sunday Times

Literary Review

  • "In this superlative history, Aldrich packs in vast amounts of information, while managing to remain very readable. He paints the broad picture, but also introduces fascinating detail."
  • Literary Review


Reviews: Literary Review

The Guardian Review

  • "In the opening sentence of his important though curiously subtitled book, the historian Richard Aldrich writes: "'GCHQ' is the last great British secret."  … GCHQ (Gloucestershire's biggest employer) remains extremely secretive compared even to MI5 and MI6, though it accounts for the bulk of the £2.4bn officially spent each year by Britain's three intelligence agencies. Aldrich shows how GCHQ developed into a global intelligence-gathering agency of truly industrial proportions  …. "The frightening truth", Aldrich concludes, is that "no one is in control"."
  • The Guardian


Reviews: The Guardian

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