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Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American…

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World… (2017)

by Liza Mundy

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Absolutely loved this book about the women, who helped break the codes of the Japanese and German military, during WW II. It reminds me a bit of the Hidden Figures book, because not many people were even aware of the contributions these women made. There is a lot of "tech" talk, which was way over my head, but it was a fascinating book. I hope it has already been optioned to be made into a movie - I sure would go see it! ( )
  yukon92 | Jul 18, 2018 |
I loved this book. it will probably end up as one of my favorites all year. Inspiring and maddening at times but so interesting and just such a great read. ( )
  bostonbibliophile | Jul 17, 2018 |
A terrific read about the women who served in the Army and Navy during WWII as cryptologists, breaking codes of our enemies, allowing our troops along with our Allies to win the war. They came from all parts of the US and all walks of life and lived in less than desirable circumstances for several years in the DC area. The work was tedious with long workdays. There were male cryptologists as well but the majority were these woman who took a sort of correspondence course for 4 weeks but really learned on the job. Before being hired they were asked if they liked to work crossword puzzles and if the answer was yes they were hired. People could spend months and years working on some codes and no code, once broken, ever remained the same. Mundy's research included government documents, letters, memoirs, interviews of some women as well as their descendants. The code of secrecy that they maintained throughout their years of work and for decades after is remarkable. Mundy does an excellent job of capturing the nature of the assignment as well as the lives of these young women who, in spite of their laborious job, managed to enjoy their lives and truly believe in their mission. Another little known facet of women in U.S. history and their little known accomplishments. ( )
  bogopea | Jun 3, 2018 |
Liza Mundy has assembled a fascinating bit of WW II history: the stories of the young women swept up into the code breaking of the US military. Gathered from elite colleges on the East Coast and small towns in the South and Midwest, these women gained the skills necessary for breaking German, Italian, and Japanese codes. Mundy excels in explaining the assembly line process of breaking codes, as well as the bursts of inspiration that often lead to the keys.

Mundy rightfully spends time on WW I code breakers and on the Friedmans, a married couple that excelled at deciphering messages for the United States in the 1920s, 1930s, and even into the Second World War. But most of her attention is on the women recruited in the early 1940s to work in the vast organizations that broke codes. As Mundy shows, these women contributed to the sinking of the Japanese merchant fleet, numerous convoys, and even participated in the Battle of the Atlantic along with their British colleagues.

Full of reminiscences by the surviving women, the book recreates a moment in history when America needed everyone to help win the war. Intriguingly, Mundy notes the existence of a separate African-American unit of code breakers who worked on commercial messages, allowing the government to track trading throughout the globe. As Mundy notes, however, the records for this unit are not as full and complete as for the main code breaking units. ( )
  barlow304 | Apr 16, 2018 |
During WWII, over ten thousand women were recruited by the Army and Navy to serve as code breakers. These women were sworn to secrecy and placed in unique and important positions. Through their efforts, codes were broken, intelligence was uncovered and the war was shortened.

Although I found the women's stories interesting, I thought this book could have used some careful editing. It was extremely repetitive. It felt as if each chapter reiterated the same information, causing the book to seem slow and tedious. I liked how the author followed certain girls, and came back to their stories. Overall, not a bad book, but not something I would re-read. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Apr 9, 2018 |
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I'm in some kind of hush, hush business.  Somewhere in Wash. D.C.  If I say anything I'll get hung for sure.  I guess I signed my life away.  But I don't mind it.
- Jaenn Magdalene Coz, writing to her mother in 1945
To all these women, and to Margaret Talbot
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The planes looked like distant pinpoints at first, and few who saw them took them seriously even up to the moment they dropped theirs payloads.
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Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them.… (more)

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