The Secret Wireless War, 1900–1986
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Signal intelligence is the most secret, and most misunderstood, weapon in the modern espionage arsenal. As a reliable source of information, it is unequalled, which is why Government Communications Headquarters, almost universally known as GCHQ, is several times larger than the two smaller, but more familiar, organisations, MI5 and MI6. Because of its extreme sensitivity, and the ease with which its methods can be compromised, GCHQ’s activities remain cloaked in secrecy.
In GCHQ: The Secret Wireless War, the renowned expert Nigel West traces GCHQ’s origins back to the early days of wireless and gives a detailed account of its development since that time. From the moment that Marconi succeeded in transmitting a radio signal across the Channel, Britain has been engaged in a secret wireless war, first against the Kaiser, then Hitler and the Soviet Union.
Following painstaking research, Nigel West is able to describe all GCHQ’s disciplines, including direction-finding, interception and traffic analysis, and code-breaking. Also explained is the work of several lesser known units such as the wartime Special Wireless Groups and the top-secret Radio Security Service.
Laced with some truly remarkable anecdotes, this edition of this important book will intrigue historians, intelligence professionals and general readers alike.
I loved reading about the origins of GCHQ, which was probably being built in the area between Gloucester and Cheltenham just a few miles from where I lived from 1946-1963, and the development of wireless technology that remains paramount to our defence and our allies' defence to this day. Nigel West is an acknowledged expert in this field of literature and his latest book is fascinating and intriguing.Books Monthly
As ever, the Author has applied his considerable knowledge of this subject and has produced a very good account of the history and circumstances of what is now GCHQ, and its predecessors. The stories flow and the book can be picked up anytime and the story continues. It is not heavy on statistics but it draws together the core history and the events that evolved around it and indeed the many tangential issues that were impacted. I was particularly taken by the background to wireless tracking of Zeppelin flights and the extend to which they predicted the events at Jutland in 1916. This is a good read that can be absorbed over several reading sessions.Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide
What did SOE really achieve during the Second World War? Why were so many agents parachuted into enemy hands? Who chose to back Communist guerrillas in Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, Albania, Greece and Malaya in preference to other anti-Axis movements? In this new and revised edition Nigel West strips away the secrecy that has surrounded the Special Operations Executive since it was officially wound up in 1946, and reveal the breath-taking political naivety, operational incompetence and ruthless manipulation. Despite the heroism of individual agents who suffered appalling privation to further…By Nigel West
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