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GCHQ: Centenary Edition

Narrated by: Peter Noble
Length: 25 hrs and 48 mins
5.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's 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

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

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

"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)

What listeners say about GCHQ: Centenary Edition

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  • Philip
  • 15-10-2019

Sober and detailed history

I rarely give full marks, but this work is exceptional. It is comprehensive (well it is over 25 hours!) and written in beautifully transparently English that it's delightful to hear. Peter Noble's delivery compliments the whole work.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mr D Davies
  • 12-09-2019

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

5 people found this helpful

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  • A. Curtis
  • 28-10-2019

Detailed and well written

Really interesting book which moves the story on without loosing detail. I felt I really did learn a lot and some of it is quite disturbing! Very nicely narrated also.

4 people found this helpful

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  • The Curator
  • 15-02-2020

Fascinating and frightening in equal measure

The book is an absolutely fascinating look at our intelligence and communications. I was particularly interested in the Falkland section as I was a child when it happened. I was however, quite surprised to find out the book was written in 2019. It felt much older and gaffes such as repeated references to the third world and one to a ‘girl at GCHQ’ made me wonder if this was an updated version of a much older book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • William Hardie
  • 20-01-2020

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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  • Professor Pat Tissington
  • 02-08-2020

Astonishing

This book covers a huge amount of ground but I never once lost my attention. This is impeccably researched, beautifully told real life stories from the secret world. I listened to it constantly in the car and it was a wrench when I got to the end. It's really incredibly well read as well. Fantastic!

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  • Mongan
  • 19-09-2020

Excellent

Very well written, very well researched. The history of such a secret and profound institution is amazing to listen to. Deffo recommended.

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  • deborah
  • 11-09-2020

Really good narration.

Very good narration for such a long book was seamless throughout. Quite worrying at the end though with all the potential for hacking our everyday lives.

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  • David
  • 03-09-2020

Very interesting

Many surprising facts about the goings-on in the British secret services. It was another of those books which you're keen to get back to for the next part of the story. Well written and well read. I enjoyed every chapter.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-08-2020

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.