Cover image for The hidden hand : Britain, America, and Cold War secret intelligence
The hidden hand : Britain, America, and Cold War secret intelligence
Aldrich, Richard J. (Richard James), 1961-
Publication Information:
Woodstock, NY : Overlook Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
xv, 733 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : John Murray, 2001.
From World War to Cold War, 1941-1945. Fighting with the Russians ; A Cold War in Whitehall ; Secret Service at the war's end: SIS and the CIA -- The Cold War gets going, 1945-1949. MI5: defectors, spy-trials and subversion ; The counter-offensive: from CRD to IRD ; The fifth column of freedom: Britain embraces liberation ; Liberation or provocation? Special operations in the Eastern bloc ; The front line: intelligence in Germany and Austria ; Operation Dick Tracy: air intelligence in London and Washington ; The failure of atomic intelligence ; GCHQ: signals intelligence looks east ; Defeat in Palestine -- The Cold War turns hot, 1950-1956. The Korean War ; Cold war fighting in Asia ; The struggle to contain liberation ; The CIA's federalist operation: ACUE and the European movement ; Atomic deception and atomic intelligence ; At the coal face: intelligence-gathering ; Moles and defectors: The impact of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean ; At home and abroad: the information research department ; Defeat in the Middle East: Iran and Suez ; Victory in Malaya -- The Cold War widens, 1957-1963. Submarine, spy-flights and shoot-downs: intelligence after Suez ; Missiles and mergers: strategic intelligence ; Cyprus: the last foothold ; Working groups: special operations in the Third World ; The hidden hand exposed: from the Bay of Pigs to Profumo.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JF1525.I6 A436 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Paranoia with respect to Russia raged in the wake of World War II, just as Churchill had foreseen: fear of a "nuclear Pearl Harbor" and the growing challenge of political stability in Europe gripped the Western world. The advent of new and terrifying weapons of war and annihilation-atomic bombs, biological and chemical weapons, and intercontinental missiles-contributed to a pervasive atmosphere of menace in the US, Britain, and all the countries of Western Europe. And in the thick of this cold war, it was the Secret Service and its intelligence operations that took action, that was capable of creating early warning systems and making inroads in the years of the cold war. It was a time of what Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called "the rise of a religion of secrecy," a time that fostered the clandestine relationships and treachery of such infamous spies as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Klaus Fuchs, and Kim Philby.

In what one-time British Ambassador Richard Seitz calls "a superlative record of Anglo-American intelligence collection, cooperation, and competition," noted author Richard Aldrich reveals startling new information about the relationship between Britain and the US during the Cold War: the extent of the US and British covert operation successes-notably in Iran and Guatemala-as well as many costly debacles and follies.

Using the formidable mass of material recently declassified by the US, as well as many files released by the British, Aldrich details the "special relationship" of cooperation between the British and the US, as well as the rampant rancor and suspicion that followed public amity and cooperation in the fight against Nazi Germany and Japan. This is a gripping and highly readable history.

Author Notes

Richard J. Aldrich Co-editor of the journal Intelligence and National Security, he is currently Professor of Politics at the University of Nottingham

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Fans of detail-rich, just-the-facts books about the spy game will flock to this massive tome, but those looking for lively presentation to go with the details may be disappointed. The author, an expert on the intelligence community, has compiled an enormous amount of research; the book chronicles the post^-World War II development of the British and American intelligence agencies and the evolution of the Cold War. It's full of familiar names--Anthony Eden, William Donovan, Kim Philby, et al.--but they never really seem like living, breathing people. Similarly, Aldrich charts the troubled relationships between the British and U.S. intelligence agencies but fails to generate any real tension; the facts are here but not the drama. Like Stephen Dorril's masterful and enormous MI6 (2000), this book is a wealth of information; unlike Dorril, however, Aldrich writes dry, textbookish prose. Still, the material here is genuinely fascinating, and that alone will be enough for many readers. This is an essential addition to the history of twentieth-century intelligence gathering; it's too bad reading it seems like homework. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

We do not yet know the full story of the Cold War, writes Aldrich near the beginning of this impressive study of Anglo-American secret intelligence. Indeed, we may never know. Nevertheless, Aldrich, co-editor of the journal Intelligence and National Security, gives it his best shot. Beginning in 1941 with the Nazi invasion of the U.S.S.R., and concluding in 1962 with the Cuban missile crisis, he details an astonishing range of covert activities by British and American intelligence units. Some of these, like the British effort to break the German Enigma code, are now well-known; others have remained largely obscure, for example, Operation Unthinkable, Churchill's appropriately named plan to attack the U.S.S.R. immediately after WWII or the British parachuting of agents into the Ukraine, where nationalist guerrillas fought against the Soviets well into the 1950s. Such revelations can be found on almost every page. Aldrich builds a convincing case that much of the Cold War was fought behind the scenes, manipulated by the hidden hand of spies, counterspies and secret analysts. Much of the important history of the Cold War, Aldrich says, remains locked away in the vaults of the CIA, MI6 and KGB. And even when information is released, the sheer volume precludes comprehensive analysis Aldrich notes that the U.S. National Security Agency alone now produces more documents in a single day than anyone could read in a lifetime. Despite these obstacles, Aldrich succeeds in throwing open the door on the grim secrets of recent history. Though the book's academic tone and sheer size may overwhelm some readers, those who persist will dramatically expand their understanding of the Cold War. 32 b&w photos not seen by PW. (June 25) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Abbreviationsp. xi
Historians of Secret Service and their Enemiesp. 1
Part I From World War to Cold War, 1941-1945p. 17
1. Fighting with the Russiansp. 19
2. A Cold War in Whitehallp. 43
3. Secret Service at the War's End: SIS and the CIAp. 64
Part II The Cold War Gets Going, 1945-1949p. 89
4. MI5: Defectors, Spy-trials and Subversionp. 91
5. The Counter-Offensive: From CRD to IRDp. 122
6. The Fifth Column of Freedom: Britain Embraces Liberationp. 142
7. Liberation or Provocation? Special Operations in the Eastern Blocp. 160
8. The Front Line: Intelligence in Germany and Austriap. 180
9. Operation Dick Tracy: Air Intelligence in London and Washingtonp. 206
10. The Failure of Atomic Intelligencep. 218
11. GCHQ: Signals Intelligence Looks Eastp. 233
12. Defeat in Palestinep. 256
Part III The Cold War Turns Hot, 1950-1956p. 269
13. The Korean Warp. 271
14. Cold War Fighting in Asiap. 293
15. The Struggle to Contain Liberationp. 315
16. The CIA's Federalist Operation: ACUE and the European Movementp. 342
17. Atomic Deception and Atomic Intelligencep. 371
18. At the Coal Face: Intelligence-Gatheringp. 392
19. Moles and Defectors: The Impact of Guy Burgess and Donald Macleanp. 421
20. At Home and Abroad: The Information Research Departmentp. 443
21. Defeat in the Middle East: Iran and Suezp. 464
22. Victory in Malayap. 494
Part IV The Cold War Widens, 1957-1963p. 519
23. Submarines, Spy-flights and Shoot-downs: Intelligence after Suezp. 521
24. Missiles and Mergers: Strategic Intelligencep. 550
25. Cyprus: The Last Footholdp. 567
26. Working Groups: Special Operations in the Third Worldp. 581
27. The Hidden Hand Exposed: From the Bay of Pigs to Profumop. 607
'Behind the scenes of history'p. 637
Appendix Note by John Drew for Chiefs of Staff and SIS, 1949p. 646
Notesp. 647
Bibliographyp. 691
Acknowledgementsp. 717
Indexp. 719