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  • GCHQ

  • Centenary Edition
  • By: Richard Aldrich
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 25 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (490 ratings)

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GCHQ cover art

GCHQ

By: Richard Aldrich
Narrated by: Peter Noble
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Summary

Fully Updated Centenary Edition

GCHQ is the largest and most secretive intelligence organisation in the UK, and has existed for 100 years - but we still know next to nothing about it.

In this ground-breaking book - the first and most definitive history of the organisation ever published - intelligence expert Richard Aldrich traces GCHQ’s development from a wartime code-breaking operation based in the Bedfordshire countryside into one of the world-leading espionage organisations.

Packed with dramatic spy stories, GCHQ also explores the organisation’s role behind the most alarming headlines of our time, from fighting ISIS to cyber-terrorism, from the surveillance state to Russian hacking.

Revelatory, brilliantly written and fully updated, this is the crucial missing link in Britain’s intelligence history.

©2019 Richard Aldrich (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

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

"An intriguing history of covert surveillance...thoroughly engaging." (Daily Telegraph)

"Skilfully weaves together the personal, political, military and technological dimensions of electronic espionage" (Economist)

What listeners say about GCHQ

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Well recommended.

Clear chapters list of good lengths.
Narration suits the stories, keeping enough suspense.
Subject is of great interest, helping explain historical events and including quite recent developments. For instance, "GCHQ" was only used publicly since 1976! The balance between Government protecting the people vs. our civil liberties is discussed.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting listen

First up, the narration is well cast for the subject matter and style of writing. The book generally gets more interesting as you go through it. It's a long book and, at times, on the dry side, nonetheless a very worthwhile listen. Finishes with some existential questions!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

We’re all doomed….

What an insight, this history of how the state craves and manages knowledge is fascinating. The overall expense of running the gathering of information via governmental and complicit non-governmental organisations is mind-boggling. A thoroughly enjoyable listen to a well crafted history of a constantly evolving organ of the state. Thank goodness it was not written with grudges and opinions.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What a fantastic listen

This will open your eyes, even when I thought I suspected everything this taught me more great value

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating and profound

This is an epic history of one of our most secret organisations. It is a long and detailed telling covering not just GCHQ but also the NSA and their impact on the worlds stage. It can feel a bit dry at times but it feels very well researched

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

interesting

this required proper concentration not a book you could do other things alongside. fascinating though.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

amazing book

such a great subject and really well told. get it and be afraid. very afraid.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Spooks

well told tale that reassures me we are being well served by GCHQ. I dare say the radical trouble makers will be appalled but I rest easier.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic story incredibly well written

I was nervous about this book being over long and boring. How wrong I was. It gripped me from start to finish.
GCHQ is a fascinating story. There are highs and low in the story as GCHQ battles nations in counter espionage and counterterrorism.
Supremely well written with a galloping pace but enough detail throughout. The author is very knowledgable. It’s written as good popular history should be. The story and narrative is never lost from beginning to end.
As a 1963 boomer I found the links to the many big stories of my upbringing in the uk particularly interesting.
The NSA link with GCHQ was also well told.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting and engaging

I’ve not long started this book but had to come and review it to 5 stars. So interesting and the reader is just great. It’s like listening to a good documentary. Highly recommend this one!

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1 person found this helpful