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

Narrated by: Tom Clegg
Length: 25 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: History, World
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

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

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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for NickNoodles
  • 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.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for TonyG
  • 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

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Alison
  • 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.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Robert Hood
  • 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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for rob
  • 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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Michael
  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for D. Hase
  • 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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Philip
  • Philip
  • 12-31-19

Brilliant and surprising

Although I found the narration slightly stilted, don't let this put you off. It's well researched and the writing style is clear, concise and thorough. I hope there is an update in the next few years that covers the current and future prime ministers.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for AT
  • AT
  • 08-20-19

Gripping subject!

Well written, great insight- loved the work
Really in-depth knowledge of these little known areas of what is otherwise open information in public view
Thanks

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dave
  • Dave
  • 11-14-18

OK, but inconsistent and confusing narration.

This book is OK. But that's it. The authors have, in parts, written a very detailed and well researched account, but in other places information is missing or key events are skimmed over with little detail, when seemingly insignificant events are covered in extreme detail. That might be because a lack of available sources or an attempt to cover things that are not often covered, but it's not clear in the book itself why this was done. The structure is also sometimes strange, for example, a large portion of the chapter on Major is actually about Thatcher with only an anecdotal link to Major.

The end of the book also becomes very speculative, and the language, particularly related to Blair, isn't wholly objective. Not to say that he doesn't deserve criticism, but the way it is written strays increasingly further away from an academic study of his failures and increasingly closer to an attack on his character. Whatever your opinion of Blair, it's not representative of the academic approach carried out in the earlier sections of the book, so for me at least damaged its credibility somewhat.

Lastly, for the narration. Tom Clegg is very easy to listen to as a whole, a contrast from some of the dry and boring performances such books are often given, but there are some significant issues mainly around intonation. It seems in places that he had not read the script before recording, reading some sentences in a way that sounded like they were the beginning of a point but then abruptly ending, as if he didn't know where the sentence was going when he started reading it, expected it to go one way, but it went another. This leads to a confusing listening experience at times, making the listener feel like they've missed something or misunderstood a point. And this does crop up quite often. A bit of editing could've saved this, but it was a big distraction from his otherwise great narration.

Overall an OK book on its own with some very interesting sections on the lesser covered PM's, and a good book if you take it with a pinch or salt and read other sources on the topic. Overall the narration is also fine as a whole, just needed better editing to prevent the distracting inconsistencies.