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Publisher's Summary

The Black Door explores the evolving relationship between successive British Prime Ministers and the intelligence agencies, from Asquith's Secret Service Bureau to Cameron's National Security Council.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the British intelligence system was underfunded and lacked influence in government. But as the new millennium dawned, intelligence had become so integral to policy that it was used to make the case for war.

Now, covert action is incorporated seamlessly into government policy, and the Prime Minister is kept constantly updated by intelligence agencies. But how did intelligence come to influence our government so completely?

The Black Door explores the murkier corridors of 10 Downing Street, chronicling the relationships between intelligence agencies and the Prime Ministers of the last century. From Churchill's code breakers feeding information to the Soviets to Eden's attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, from Wilson's paranoia of an MI5-led coup d'état to Thatcher's covert wars in Central America, Aldrich and Cormac entertain and enlighten as they explain how our government came to rely on intelligence to the extent that it does today.

©2016 Richard Aldrich and Rory Cormac (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

Praise for Richard Alrich's GCHQ: "Thoroughly engaging." ( Daily Telegraph)
"Skilfully weaves together the personal, political, military and technological dimensions of electronic espionage." ( Economist)
"Aldrich packs in vast amounts of information, while managing to remain very readable. He paints the broad picture, but also introduces fascinating detail." ( Literary Review)
"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)
"This is a sober and valuable work of scholarship, which is as reliable as anything ever is in the twilight world of intelligence-gathering. Yet there is nothing dry about it. Aldrich knows how to write for a wider audience, while avoiding the speculations, inventions, sensationalism and sheer silliness of so much modern work on the subject." ( Spectator)

What listeners say about The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence and British Prime Ministers

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  • NickNoodles
  • 09-20-16

Utterly fabulous

So well researched and written in an accessible and even gripping way, topped off by being read brilliantly. Couldn't recommend this book more if you're interested in politics and the intelligence world.

7 people found this helpful

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  • TonyG
  • 01-19-17

Thorough analysis

A detailed and well read analysis of the UK's secret world which grows ever larger.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Alison
  • 12-18-16

It's probably me - but this is so dull.

I want to like it. I love the premise, and I am very interested in this area of history and politics. And Audible is how I get a lot of my history! But it is just too dull.

The subject matter is NOT really dull but this treatment just doesn't work for me as an audio book. I have given up about 4 hours in. I have a feeling it will pick up later but I am not prepared to go on and find it's this dull right the way through. .

The reader has a very pleasant voice but again, it's rather soft and lulls your mind off in any direction other than the book. I almost never give only one or two stars but I regret downloading this one.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Professor Pat Tissington
  • 08-02-20

Getting inside the psyche of prime ministers

This book was a real surprise - just came to it more or less by accident. I am fascinated by spies but couldnt really see why the link between the various spy agencies and Prime Ministers would be at all interesting. But I was totally wrong! The book really gets inside the minds of all prime ministers since 1900 and contains real suprises about recent incumbents of number 10. And for me, who flunked history at school, gave me a rapid and engaging way to understand the prime ministers of the twentieth century.
I'm afraid I didn't care all that much for the reader who's occasional attempts at American or Russian accents was awful. But it didn't prevent my really enjoying the whole story. I was totally immersed and often had to carry on listening in the car once I had reached my destination just to get to the end of a particularly fascinating segment. It was great!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Camilo
  • 06-21-20

Amazing

For someone interested in all things to do with foreign policy, espionage and diplomacy this has been very informative and detailed. Really makes you think what are they up to today.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert Hood
  • 05-24-17

Fascinating

The breadth and insight makes this a compulsive audio book I found very difficult to stop listening to..

1 person found this helpful

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  • rob
  • 03-21-17

a real eye opener.

Thatcher to present day was fascinating. give it a go. its ideal for long journeys.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 01-18-17

A fantastic journey in to the inner-workings of what happens at the top.

I would recommend this to any one who has an interest in politics and history, and how the big decisions are made. This book has got a 5 rating on all aspects as the authors have descried in as much detail as possible, what led to the events that took place over the decades, and analysed what was happening in the world to vring about such events. A great narrater also is a big plus, and all these reasons are why I had to get to the end quickly. Purely because I wanted to know more.

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  • D. Hase
  • 09-29-16

Fascinating Insight

No other book captures the intensity of the 20th and 21st Century battles of intelligence and Special Forces orchestrated from No10

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-02-21

A comprehensive story about the relationship between policy at number 10 and the role intelligence has played

An excellent overview of the lengths that certain Prime ministers were willing to go to in order to have the most effective policy possible. The recent information on Tony Blair’s tenure onwards is a real treat as you have would have to consult multiple sources to gather all the knowledge you obtain in a few chapter towards the end of this book.