Herbert O. Yardley AMERICAN BLACK CHAMBER

ISBN 13: 9780345298676

AMERICAN BLACK CHAMBER

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9780345298676: AMERICAN BLACK CHAMBER
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Looks at an era in American cryptography by detailing the top secret activities of a group of code breakers charged with deciphering military and diplomatic communiques from 1917-1929

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About the Author:

Herbert Osborne Yardley was born in the small frontier town of Worthington, Indiana, in 1889. Class president, editor of the school paper and football captain, he was nevertheless academically average but had a flair for mathematics. He had ambitions to become a criminal lawyer but the year 1912 found him working instead as a code clerk in the State Department, a job which made full use of his mathematical skills and shrewd poker-player's mind. In 1917 America entered World War I and Yardley persuaded his bosses to let him set up a code-breaking section with a staff of 160. Officially this was called the Cipher Bureau, Military Intelligence 8; more familiarly it became known as the 'Black Chamber'. Some 200,000 messages were decoded, with Yardley himself breaking the Japanese diplomatic codes and finding himself a marked man in the Orient as a result. Out of a job, Yardley set to work on The American Black Chamber, a no-holds-barred history of the organization's activities which scandalized the political and diplomatic world but became an international best-seller when published in 1931. A later book by Yardley, Japanese Diplomatic Secrets, was banned by Act of Congress in 1933, by which time its author was hard at work developing secret inks. His venture, however, proved a commercial failure, and between 1933 and 1935 he turned his hand to novel writing with The Red Sun of Nippon and The Blonde Countess. The latter was filmed by MGM as Rendezvous, starring William Powell, Rosalind Russell and Cesar Romero, with Yardley as technical adviser; the New York Times called it a 'lively and amusing melodrama'. In 1938 he was hired by Chiang Kai-shek to monitor the coded messages of the Japanese armies invading China; he worked in Chungking under an alias with the cover of being an exporter of hides. In 1941, with Japan now at war with the United States, he was recalled and went back to working for the US Government, but not at code-breaking. The 'Black Chamber' scandal had earned him some official distrust at home as well as abroad, but he was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on his death in 1958. Herbert O. Yardley died on August 7, 1958. In 1999, he was given a place in the National Security Agency Hall of Honor. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Grave 429-1 of Section 30. Yardley is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame. The National Cryptologic Museum's library has 16 boxes of Yardley's personal files.

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