Christopher Andrew

Whispers in Downing Street

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

By Richard J Aldrich, Rory Cormac

William Collins 606pp £30 order from our bookshop

The biggest gap in the biographies of many prime ministers concerns their use of intelligence. Histories of the postwar Labour government, for example, give no hint that Clement Attlee, at his own request, had far more private meetings with the director-general of MI5 than any other 20th-century prime minister. Books on the Blair years, by contrast, show much greater interest in intelligence. ‘Controversy over intelligence defines Tony Blair’s government’, write Richard Aldrich and Rory Cormac in The Black Door. Their pioneering book is the first to examine how all British prime ministers since the early 20th century have used intelligence. It is also a very good read.

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