Aldrich, Richard J. 1961–
Aldrich, Richard J. 1961–
(Richard James Aldrich)
Born 1961, in Rochdale, Lancaster, England; son of Alec James and Winifred Mary Aldrich; married Libby Smith, 1988; children: Nicholas, Harriet. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of Manchester, B.A. (with honors), 1983; University of Aberdeen, M.Litt., 1984; Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Ph.D., 1990. Hobbies and other interests: Swimming, tennis, gardening, "photographing large geodesic domes from behind small bushes."
Office—Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry, Warwick CV4, England. Agent—Andrew Lownie, 17 Sutherland St., London SW1V 4JU, England.
University of Nottingham, Nottingham, England, past professor of politics; University of Warwick, Coventry, Warwick, England, professor of politics and international studies.
British International Studies Association, Historical Association, Oral History Society.
Beeke-Levy research fellowship for Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY; British Academy grants, 1990, 1997-98, 2005; Fulbright fellowship, 1992; Economic and Social Research Council grant, 1992-94; Donner Book Prize, 2002, for The Hidden Hand: Britain, America, and Cold-War Secret Intelligence; Leverhulme fellowship, 2004.
(Editor) British Intelligence, Strategy, and the Cold War, 1945-51, Routledge (London, England), 1992.
(Editor, with Frank Cass) Intelligence, Defence, and Diplomacy: British Policy in the Post-War World, Frank Cass (London, England), 1994.
(Editor) Espionage, Security, and Intelligence in Britain, 1945-70, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1998.
Intelligence and the War against Japan: Britain, America, and the Politics of Secret Service, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 2000.
(Editor, with Frank Cass) The Clandestine Cold War in Asia, 1945-65: Intelligence, Special Operations, and Propaganda, Frank Cass (London, England), 2000.
The Hidden Hand: Britain, America, and Cold War Secret Intelligence, John Murray (London, England), 2001.
Witness to War: Diaries of the Second World War in Europe and the Middle East, Doubleday (London, England), 2004.
The Faraway War: Personal Diaries of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific, Doubleday (London, England), 2005.
Contributor to scholarly journals. Coeditor, Intelligence and National Security, 1995-2004.
Richard J. Aldrich's studies of British intelligence might be described as intelligence operations in themselves. Because the records of Britain's primary intelligence services have remained closed for most of the postwar period, Aldrich and fellow scholars of British intelligence have had to follow indirect paths to their information. In the absence of many primary sources, Aldrich has combed the records of other British agencies which were consumers of intelligence information, among them the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office, the Treasury, and the Bank of England.
In the essay collection British Intelligence, Strategy, and the Cold War, 1945-51, Aldrich steered away from well-examined topics such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Korean War. Instead, he chose less predictable subjects, such as British and American covert operations against Eastern Europe, British feelings about West German rearmament following World War II, and surveys of Cold War influences in Asia and the Middle East. The result, in the words of International Affairs reviewer Anthony Adamthwaite, is "a stimulating and provocative survey" of these emerging Cold War topics.
Aldrich's second collection, Intelligence, Defence, and Diplomacy: British Policy in the Post-War World, edited with Michael F. Hopkins, also covered new ground. The essays range from Peter Lowe's look at the failed attempts to include a war "guilt clause" in the Japanese peace treaty, to David Boren's analysis of the 1981 British defense review. In another review in International Affairs, Adamthwaite wrote of this collection that it "demonstrates the strength of scholarship in British history in the 1990s."
Aldrich's own writings have also been noticed for their fresh looks at cold war intelligence issues. The Key to the South: Britain, the United States, and Thailand during the Approach of the Pacific War, 1929-41 surveys the complicated diplomacy undertaken by Thailand, Britain, Japan, and the United States as the war approached. The book considers how Anglo-American relations before the war involved Thailand, and how they were influenced by Thailand's close relationship with Britain. In a review in Choice, C.J. Weeks wrote that Aldrich "breaks with the consensus view that Thais avoided colonization and concludes that Thailand was part of Britain's informal empire, subject to direct rule from London."
In researching Espionage, Security, and Intelligence in Britain, 1945-70, Aldrich had a key advantage over his earlier efforts: a wealth of documents made public following the Waldegrave Initiative on Open Government. Subjects covered in these documents ranged from "moles" and defectors from the East and West, to aerial reconnaissance, to special operations in the third world. In Espionage, Aldrich chronicles a long and busy period of British intelligence but chooses to organize it thematically rather than chronologically. "This provides," wrote Anthony McDermott in the Journal of Peace Research, "tantalizing snapshots … of a wide variety of activities ranging from scientific and atomic intelligence to liaison and deception."
Although occasionally criticized for his "dry" style and a tendency to lose his readers in historical detail, Aldrich has generally been praised for the meticulousness of his research methods and his ability to distill his research into a thorough and impartial analysis. Aldrich is noted for his consistent ability to shed new light on seemingly exhausted historical subjects. David K. Wyatt wrote in a review of The Key to the South for the American Historical Review, "His conclusions … cry out for the sequel one hopes Aldrich soon will write."
The sequel emerged as The Hidden Hand: Britain, America, and Cold War Secret Intelligence. True to form, Aldrich sifted through a wide range of unclassified or declassified documents to find the gems that other analysts had neglected and to look at familiar data in a new way. This study connects British intelligence activities to concurrent American efforts in the early years of the cold war. His account begins near the end of World War II, when British leaders viewed the Soviet Union with increasing alarm, apparently even considering a military attack but settling for clandestine parachute drops of British agents into the Ukraine to foment internal resistance to the Soviet regime. He describes U.S. reluctance to participate in these efforts until 1949, when the USSR launched its first successful atomic explosion and turned the tables on American complacency. While British leaders were inclined to pull back in the face of a perceived vulnerability, U.S. intelligence officials were spurred toward greater resistance, even to the point of considering a preemptive war against the East European giant. Aldrich's study continues into the early 1960s, when a series of spectacular embarrassments (from the failure of the Bay of Pigs excursion by the United States to the defection of British spy Kim Philby to Moscow) rendered covert operations, not only more difficult, but also more distasteful to the palate of public opinion. David Pitt wrote in Booklist that the material in The Hidden Hand, though dry and devoid of human drama, "is genuinely fascinating … an essential addition to the history of twentieth-century intelligence gathering." Library Journal contributor Daniel L. Blewett particularly noted that Aldrich's accounts of "the early postwar period are the most compelling, as less is popularly known about these periods." Raymond L. Garthoff commented in the Political Science Quarterly that Aldrich's "most important contribution is in saying what little can yet be said about the use of intelligence for strategic deception, including the occasional British use of intelligence for deception of [its] allies."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, April, 1995, David K. Wyatt, review of The Key to the South: Britain, the United States, and Thailand during the Approach of the Pacific War, 1929-41, pp. 493-494.
Booklist, May 15, 2002, David Pitt, review of The Hidden Hand: Britain, America, and Cold War Secret Intelligence, p. 1557.
Choice, September, 1994, C.J. Weeks, review of The Key to the South, p. 1485.
English Historical Review, June, 2002, Matthew Jones, review of The Hidden Hand, p. 670.
Financial Times, July 1, 2001, Cal McCrystal, review of The Hidden Hand.
Government and Opposition, autumn, 1993, Nigel Clive, review of British Intelligence, Strategy, and the Cold War, 1945-51, pp. 553-558.
History: Journal of the Historical Association, February, 1994, C.J. Bartlett, review of British Intelligence, Strategy, and the Cold War, 1945-51, pp. 189-190; July, 1996, Victor Rothwell, review of Intelligence, Defence, and Diplomacy: British Policy in the Post-War World, pp. 503-504.
International Affairs, January, 1993, Anthony Adamthwaite, review of British Intelligence, Strategy, and the Cold War, 1945-51, pp. 150-151; September, 1995, Anthony Adamthwaite, review of Intelligence, Defence, and Diplomacy, p. 627.
Journal of Economic Literature, June, 1999, review of Espionage, Security, and Intelligence in Britain, 1945-70, p. 784.
Journal of Peace Research, March, 1999, Anthony McDermott, review of Espionage, Security, and Intelligence in Britain, 1945-70, p. 245.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2000, review of Intelligence and the War against Japan: Britain, America, and the Politics of Secret Service, p. 210.
Library Journal, May 15, 2002, Daniel K. Blewett, review of The Hidden Hand, p. 106.
Literary Review, July, 2001, Donald Cameron Watt, review of The Hidden Hand.
Pacific Historical Review, November, 1995, Roger Dingman, review of The Key to the South, p. 632.
Political Science Quarterly, summer, 2002, Raymond L. Garthoff, review of The Hidden Hand, p. 322.
Publishers Weekly, May 20, 2002, review of The Hidden Hand, p. 61.