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The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence, and British Prime Ministers

The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence, and British Prime Ministers

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Intelligence can do a prime minister’s dirty work. For more than a century, secret wars have been waged directly from Number 10. They have staved off conflict, defeats, and British decline through fancy footwork, often deceiving friend and foe alike. Yet as the birth of the modern British secret service in 1909, prime ministers were strangers to the secret world—sometimes with disastrous consequences.

During the Second World War, Winston Churchill oversaw a remarkable revolution in the exploitation of intelligence, bringing it into the center of government. Churchill’s wartime regime also formed a school of intelligence for future prime ministers, and its secret legacy has endured. Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron all became great enthusiasts for spies and special forces.

Although Britain’s political leaders have often feigned ignorance about what one prime minister called this “strange underworld,” some of the most daring and controversial intelligence operations can be traced straight back to Number 10

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780008345792
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Publication date: 03/03/2020
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.00(d)

About the Author

Richard Aldrich is a regular commentator on war and espionage and has written for the ‘Evening Standard’, the ‘Guardian’, ‘The Times’ and the ‘Telegraph’. He is the author of several books, including ‘The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence’ which won the Donner Book Prize in 2002.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Abbreviations and Acronyms xi

Introduction 1

Part 1 Creating Secret Service

1 Herbert Asquith, David Lloyd George and Andrew Bonar Law (1908-1923) 21

2 Stanley Baldwin and Ramsay MacDonald (1923-1937) 44

Part 2 The Winds of War

3 Neville Chamberlain (1937-1940) 69

4 Winston Churchill (1940-1941) 90

5 Winston Churchill (1942-1945) 113

Part 3 The Hot Cold War

6 Clement Attlee (1945-1951) 137

7 Winston Churchill (1951-1955) 161

8 Anthony Eden (1955-1957) 182

9 Harold Macmillan (1957-1963) 205

10 Alec Douglas-Home (1963-1964) 232

Part 4 Detente and Dissent

11 Harold Wilson (1964-1970) 259

12 Edward Heath (1970-1974) 286

13 Harold Wilson (1974-1976) 307

14 James Callaghan (1976-1979) 329

15 Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) 353

Part 5 Turbulent Times

16 John Major (1990-1997) 387

17 Tony Blair (1997-2007) 410

18 Gordon Brown (2007-2010) 435

19 David Cameron (2010-) 456

Conclusion: Prime Ministers and the Future of Intelligence 485

Appendix I Key Officials Since 1909 499

Appendix II Key Intelligence and Security Machinery 505

'Eat Before Reading': A Short Essay on Methodology 507

Acknowledgements 511

Notes 515

Bibliography 559

Index 583