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The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men…

The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma… (original 2010; edition 2012)

by Sinclair McKay

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2751441,194 (3.59)6
Title:The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park
Authors:Sinclair McKay
Info:Plume (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay (2010)



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This is a very readable account of the activities and lives of the thousands of men and women who in conditions of essential and near absolute secrecy laboured to break German cipher codes during the Second World War, particularly those codes transmitted on the famous Enigma machines, which were originally developed back in the 1920s for commercial use by German banks, before being bought up by the Weimar Republic government and made further secure by the Nazis. But this is much more than a book about the mechanics of code-breaking. This tells the stories of those men and women in their own words: how they were recruited; how they coped with the pressure of having to exercise a high degree of intellectual rigour, while knowing that a single mistake could change military fortunes and cost lives; and how they were bound by secrecy to tell nothing of their work, either during the war or in subsequent decades, until the story of Bletchley Park became generally known in the 1970s. Their contribution was for a long time therefore unsung, and they did not have the satisfaction and personal catharsis that former soldiers, statesmen and others had of recounting their wartime experiences. But it is clear that their actions hugely helped the British and Allied war effort and that, without this patient, unseen work, the outcome of the War might have been very different. ( )
  john257hopper | Oct 11, 2015 |
I read this just before visiting Bletchley Park in July. It gave me a good insight into life at the secret WWII code breaking establishment. Written in an easy style covering many aspects of history, personalities, secrecy technology and perseverance.
( )
  GeoffSC | May 31, 2015 |
A fascinating account of an amazing episode in 20th century British history. Thoroughly researched and well-written. A great read. ( )
1 vote rosiezbanks | Feb 26, 2015 |
Excellent book - very detailed on every aspect of life at Bletchley Park (even the prevalence of Aspergers) - except for the religious aspect of the codebreakers' lives. One would think they were all atheists, given the detail given to other aspects of life there. ( )
1 vote davemac | Mar 5, 2014 |
Before and during WWII, some of England's most brilliant mathematical and linguistic minds, men and women both, went to work at the remote country estate of Bletchley Park. There, they cracked the German Enigma encryption, and the intelligence their decryption provided to the Allies may have shortened the war by years. But they were unable to tell the world about the part they played in the war effort for decades, evading questions even from those closest to them and denying the credit they were due.

Now that their silence has been lifted, Sinclair McKay has written a tremendously enjoyable book about the extraordinary social world of Bletchley Park, where eccentric geniuses roamed free and men and women from every social class rubbed shoulders. After reading this, be sure to watch the brilliant ITV miniseries The Bletchley Circle, about the crime-solving exploits of four female Bletchley alumni a decade after the war. ( )
1 vote circumspice | Feb 18, 2014 |
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Sarah Baring - and her good friend Osla Henniker-Major - received the summons by means of a terse telegram.
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Bletchley Park in the Buckinghamshire countryside was home to Britain's most brilliant mathematical brains and the scene of immense advances in technology, like the birth of modern computing. This book tells the story of what it was like to work there during the war.… (more)

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