Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park

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9780192853042: Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park

Familiar to anyone versed in the history of World War II or interested in the study of modern intelligence work, Bletchley Park was arguably the most successful intelligence operation in world history, the top secret workplace of the remarkable people who cracked Germany's vaunted Enigma Code. Almost to the end of the war, the Germans had firm faith in the Enigma ciphering machine, but in fact the codebreakers were deciphering nearly 4,000 German transmissions daily by 1942, reaping a wealth of information on such important matters as the effort to resupply Rommel's army in North Africa and the effect of Allied attempts to mislead the Germans about the location of D-Day landings. Indeed, Winston Churchill hailed the work of Bletchley Park as the "secret weapon" that won the war.
Only now, nearly half a century since the end of the Second World War, have any of the men and women in this group come forward to tell this remarkable story in their own words--a story that an oath of secrecy long prevented them from revealing. In Codebreakers, F.H. Hinsley and Alan Stripp have gathered together twenty-seven first-hand accounts of one of the most amazing feats in intelligence history. These engaging memoirs, each written by a different member of the codebreakers team, recount the long hours working in total secrecy and the feelings of camaraderie, tension, excitement, and frustration as these men and women, both British and American, did some of the most important work of the war. These talented people share not only their technical knowledge of cryptography and military logistics, but also poignant personal recollections as well. Walter Eytan, one of a handful of Jews at Betchley Park, recalls intercepting a message from a German vessel which reported that it carried Jews " en route for Piraeus zur Endlosung (for the final solution)." Eytan writes "I had never heard this expression before, but instinctively, I knew what it must mean, and I have never forgotten that moment." Vivienne Alford tells of her chilling memory of hearing that the atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima, and the stillness that came over her and her co-workers in Naval Section VI. And William Millward confides that he is still haunted by the work he did in Hut 3 nearly fifty years ago. "I sometimes wonder, especially during the night, how many sailors I drowned."
Few readers will finish this book without feeling that the codebreakers were essential to the outcome of the war--and thereby of major importance in helping to shape the world we live in today.

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About the Author:


About the Editors:
F.H. Hinsley was formerly Master of St John's College and Professor of the History of International Relations at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the four-volume history British Intelligence in the Second World War.
Alan Stripp is Director of Cambridge University Summer Schools on British Secret Services.

Review:

'this splendid book, which is divided into four sections, tells of one of the most amazing feats in cryptologic history ... This is a remarkable book, undoubtedly the definitive work on Bletchley Park, with livley anecdotes and detailed stories giving a colourful account of BP's daily life and work, which made a major contribution to shortening the war, as Hinsley demonstrates in an astute analysis.' Cryptologia, January 1994 'Together, the editors and their wartime colleagues have made a real contribution to the history of the Second World War.' The Naval Review 'it makes fascinating reading.' Bulletin of the Early Historical Society, Nov 1993 'The value of this book is that it is the first - and probably the last given that nobody who worked at Bletchley is now under 65 - authentic account written by the men and women who broke the coded signals of Germany, Italy and Japan between 1939 and 1945. ... fascinating book ... A remarkable story, excellently illustrated.' Legion, Nov/Dec 1993 'The editors of Code-Breakers were both distinguished cryptographers and their contributions are outstanding.' The Tablet, 6 November 1993 'a wonderful picture of what life was like at Bletchley Park in those heady days' World War II Review 'what it offers is the human side of an operation more secret than and just a critical to Allied victory as anything in the war except the Manhattan Project. For the most part, the men and women involved herin tell their stories with simple eloquence' Booklist 'a highly revealing, even exciting book, written with inside knowledge, that lays fascinating former secrets bare ... It is a delight to have so crucial a subject so clearly and so entertainingly described, by some thirty people who really understand what they are discussing, and can set the record quite straight.' The Times 'This immensely enjoyable and readable book therefore represents a real service to history ... engrossing, important and scrupulously edited.' Robert Harris, Sunday Times 'Anyone interested in the Second World War will sit up all night, and chess players and puzzle-solvers will be captivated by later chapters.' Noel Annan, Independent on Sunday 'fascinating volume ... instructive and entertaining.' Christopher Andrew, Sunday Telegraph 'In Codebreakers, the whole fascinating story is told in detail.' Cambridge Evening News 'This extraordinary story encapsulates the enduring fascination of Bletchley Park ... This immensely enjoyable and readable book ... represents a real service to history ... it comes not a moment too soon, for most of its contributors have never spoken publicly before and are now well into their seventies. Their testimony has been recorded just in time. Blethcley Park must be preserved and this engrossing, important and scrupulously edited book reminds us why.' Robert Harris, Sunday Times 'fascinating reminiscences' John Keegan, Daily Telegraph 'fascinating insiders' account of wartime code-cracking ... an absorbing read' Niall Ferguson, Daily Mail 'Anyone interested in the Second World War will sit up all night, and chess players and puzzle-solvers will be captivated by later chapters.' Noel Annan, Independent on Sunday 'This immensely enjoyable and readable book ... represents a real service to history ... Bletchley Park must be preserved, and this engrossing, important and scrupulously edited book reminds us why.' Sunday Times 'it is an exciting story they have to tell' Tom Greenwell, Yorkshire Post 'This volume of personal recollections by some 30 of the survivors is ... especially welcome. Conditions of life and work at Bletchley, and its principal achievements, are faithfully sampled in Codebreakers, which is worth reading both for its historical interest and for the sidelights it throws on the problems encountered in the rapid assembly and organization of one of the greatest collections of talent that has ever occurred in Western civilization.' R.V. Jones, Nature, Vol. 366, December 1993 'This unique volume will be of great interest to cryptologists in particular, and intelligence buffs in general.' Surveillant 3.2 & 3.3

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