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This major work is the first comprehensive account of how intelligence influenced and sustained British naval power from the late nineteenth century, when the Admiralty first created a dedicated intelligence department, through to the end of the Cold War.
It brings a critical new dimension to understanding British naval history in this period – setting naval intelligence in a wide context and emphasising the many parts of the British state that contributed to naval requirements. It is also a fascinating study of how naval needs and personalities shaped the British intelligence community that exists today as well as the concepts and values that underpin it.
Andrew Boyd explains why and how intelligence was collected and assesses its real impact on both wartime operations and peacetime policy. He confirms that naval intelligence made a vital contribution to Britain’s survival and ultimate victory in the two World Wars, but he
reappraises its role, highlighting the importance of communications intelligence to an effective blockade in the First, and according Enigma-generated Ultra less dominance compared to other sources in the Second. He reveals that coverage of Germany before 1914 and of the
three Axis powers in the interwar period was more effective than previously suggested. And though Britain’s power declined rapidly after 1945, he shows how intelligence helped the Royal Navy to remain a significant global force for the rest of the twentieth century, and in submarine warfare during the second half of the Cold War, to achieve influence and impact for Britain far exceeding the resources expended.
This compelling new history will have wide appeal to all readers interested in intelligence and its impact on naval policy and operations. It will transform their understanding of how Britain ensured its national security across the twentieth century.
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