GCHQ by Richard Aldrich

Published July 18, 2023

GCHQ by Richard Aldrich

Book info

  • Title GCHQ
  • Author Richard Aldrich
  • Year 2010
  • Genre Non-fiction

As we become ever-more aware of how our governments 'eavesdrop' on our conversations, here is a gripping exploration of this unknown realm of the British secret service: Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ). 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 book, Richard J. Aldrich traces GCHQ's evolvement from a wartime code breaking operation based in the Bedfordshire countryside to one of the world's leading espionage organisations. Focusing in part on GCHQ's remarkably intimate relationship with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA), Aldrich also examines both the impact of the Second World War on GCHQ and the breakthroughs made after the war was over.


This book too me so long to get through, it’s pretty long but also quite dense - a lot of agencies and dates and countries and they did this, so we did that, etc etc. Every time I thought I was going to stop reading though, which happened a few times, there was a nugget of information that I really loved. The way different agencies failed to work together, or loading up submarines with listening technology, or how everything is developing with so much modern data floating around. A bit of a slog but overall quite interesting.

Rating: 3 / 5

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