Behind the Enigma: The Authorised History of GCHQ, Britain's Secret Cyber-Intelligence Agency (Paperback)
  • Behind the Enigma: The Authorised History of GCHQ, Britain's Secret Cyber-Intelligence Agency (Paperback)
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Behind the Enigma: The Authorised History of GCHQ, Britain's Secret Cyber-Intelligence Agency (Paperback)

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Paperback 848 Pages / Published: 10/06/2021
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Waterstones Says

In this first-ever authorised history of the ultra-secret Government Communications Headquarters, Professor John Ferris digs deep into the past of Britain's biggest cyber-intelligence agency.

You know about MI5. You know about MI6. Now uncover the mystery behind Britain's most secretive intelligence agency, in the first ever authorised history of GCHQ.

For a hundred years, GCHQ - Government Communications Headquarters - has been at the forefront of innovation in national security and British secret statecraft. Famed for its codebreaking achievements during the Second World War, and essential to the Allied victory, GCHQ also held a critical role in both the Falklands War and Cold War. Today, amidst the growing threats of terrorism and online crime, GCHQ continues to be the UK's leading intelligence, security and cyber agency, and a powerful tool of the British state.

Based on unprecedented access to classified archives, Behind the Enigma is the first book to authoritatively tell the entire history of this most unique and enigmatic of organisations - and peer into its future at the heart of the nation's security.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781526605481
Number of pages: 848
Weight: 612 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'Fascinating ... [Ferris] has rescued several great women codebreakers from obscurity ... [Bletchley Park] has become embedded in national myth, but Ferris offers cool and balanced judgment ... This monumental work completes the authorised picture of a century of British intelligence, a testament to how far Britain has moved away from the cult of official secrecy' - Ben Macintyre, The Times 

'In Ferris we have a shrewd and scrupulous historian ... The references to individual people at all levels of the service are many and illuminating ... Small details can bring a nod or a smile when one is reading ... GCHQ shows it is alert to the role of a security and defence agency in a modern democracy, and Ferris is to be congratulated for shedding so much light upon it' - Vin Arthey, The Scotsman 

'The book is at its best when sifting the role of signal intelligence (Sigint) in the Falklands war and other late imperial conflicts such as Indonesia and Palestine ... Comprehensive' - Luke Harding, The Guardian 

'GCHQ emerges from the shadows ... The story of the codebreakers is in fact a parallel history of the entire twentieth century ... There is intriguing detailing of the organisation's structure and systems ... Illuminating ... Absorbing' - Sinclair McKay, The Spectator 

'What happens when a tiny caste, so obsessed with keeping thing hidden that it speaks its own language of Ultra, Venona or Zircon, opens up? ... The answer - not withstanding significant restriction on what Ferris was allowed to publish - is a book of revelation ... Although he spent months sifting the papers in a high-security Cheltenham vault, [Ferris] does not lose sight of the big picture ... There is much in the book that illuminates other aspects of postwar history, from the struggle against the Jewish underground in Palestine to the 1982 Falklands conflict ... Today, [Ferris] argues, greater openness about intelligence gathering does not affect its relevance and power. His book is an example of this, and shows that the abandonment of Cold War levels of secrecy about GCHQ benefits us all' - Mark Urban, The Sunday Times 

'[Ferris] has written a deeply learned, comprehensive account of [GCHQ's] achievements and occasional failures' - Saul David, The Daily Telegraph 

'A fascinating tale ... It takes us with the codebreakers - mathematicians, linguists, teachers and philosophers and eccentrics - through the ages of radio, telegrams telephone and satellites to the digital present' - Philip Stephens, The Financial Times

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“Fascinating but confusing”

This substantial book seems to me to need a good editor. At times it is difficult to follow, with too many commas. It needs a glossary of all the TLA, ETLA and FETLA* only a few of which appear in the index. However... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 14

“Turgid is almost an anagram of turgid”

This is a hefty tome though some of it is repetitious and the level of detail is, in places, a bit much for the general reader. Also there is a tendency to use abbreviations and jargon that I found confusing -... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 13

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