U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, and Intelligence Officers against Japan, 1910-1941: A Biographical Dictionary

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9781442255630: U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, and Intelligence Officers against Japan, 1910-1941: A Biographical Dictionary
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This unique reference presents 59 biographies of people who were key to the sea services being reasonably prepared to fight the Japanese Empire when the Second World War broke out, and whose advanced work proved crucial. These intelligence pioneers invented techniques, procedures, and equipment from scratch, not only allowing the United States to hold its own in the Pacific despite the loss of much of its Fleet at Pearl Harbor, but also laying the foundation of today's intelligence methods and agencies.

One-hundred years ago, in what was clearly an unsophisticated pre-information era, naval intelligence (and foreign intelligence in general) existed in rudimentary forms almost incomprehensible to us today. Founded in 1882, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)--the modern world's "oldest continuously operating intelligence agency"--functioned for at least its first forty years with low manning, small budgets, low priority, and no prestige. The navy's early steps into communications intelligence (COMINT), which included activities such as radio interception, radio traffic analysis, and cryptology, came with the 1916 establishment of the Code and Signals Section within the navy's Division of Communications and with the 1924 creation of the "Research Desk" as part of the Section. Like ONI, this COMINT organization suffered from low budgets, manning, priority, and prestige.

The dictionary focuses on these pioneers, many of whom went on, even after World War II, to important positions in the Navy, the State Department, the Armed Forces Security Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency. It reveals the work and innovations of well and lesser-known individuals who created the foundations of today's intelligence apparatus and analysis.

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About the Author:

Captain Steven E. Maffeo, U.S.N.R., Ret. is formerly the associate director of the McDermott Library, U.S. Air Force Academy.   He also was in naval intelligence for over 28 years and commanded three reserve intelligence units.  Before retiring, his last navy assignment was teaching the history of intelligence at the National Defense Intelligence College.

Review:

....[the book] admirably fulfills the author's goal of humanizing these intelligence heroes and recounting their woes and triumphs before and during the Pacific War....this is an extremely valuable volume that belongs in general and research libraries....it will entertain and enlighten today's readers.  (The Journal of Military History)

Maffeo's book fills a longstanding gap in the literature of Navy cryptology. This volume will remain the standard reference for information about the Navy's intelligence personnel before and during World War II. (U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings)

As a retired Air Officer and student of military history, I found Steve Maffeo' s book, U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, and Intelligence Officers against Japan, 1910-1941, to be absolutely fascinating--as it will be to anyone who wants to get the true history of naval intelligence before the start of World War II. His biographies of these 59 intelligence and cryptology pioneers tell the story of how these dedicated people--who were underfunded, undermanned, and usually under appreciated--helped win the eventual war against Japan. Fortunately, because Captain Maffeo has written this outstanding history, their deeds and names will live on. This is a must read. (Steve Lorenz, General, U.S. Air Force, Ret., formerly Commander, Air Education and Training Command)

Overall, this book will be of interest to anyone interested in pre-war and wartime intelligence and especially to students in the field of intelligence studies--as well as the descendants of the men Maffeo writes about who were forbidden to tell their own stories. In a real sense, while the details vary, their experiences reflect the pressures and demands on code breakers and intelligence officers in other wars past and present. (John Kenneth Rowland, Ph.D., Colonel, USAF (Ret.); emeritus (program director and associate dean), U.S. National Intelligence University)

...A scholarly monument to the brilliant men and women who contributed mightily to the U.S. victory in World War II over Japan--and helped lay the foundations for today's National Security Agency. (Stephen Coonts, New York Times best-selling author of Flight of the Intruder, Fortunes of War, Combat, Deep Black, and America)

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