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

by Liza Mundy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,1354315,336 (4.06)65
The award-winning New York Times bestseller about the American women who secretly served as codebreakers during World War II--a "prodigiously researched and engrossing" (New York Times) book that "shines a light on a hidden chapter of American history" (Denver Post). 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. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.… (more)
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» See also 65 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
A very thorough, and focused investigation of how the military came to use women to help break codes, which was of vital importance in WWII. The author went to great lengths to show the state of the United States at this time, and how these projects altered the personal situations of these women. She also employed a few timeline writing tricks to make the reader's journey more dramatic. ( )
  bobunwired | Nov 19, 2022 |
The "code girls" were young women recruited from all over the U.S. to become code breakers during WWII. Unbeliveably, there were over 10,000!

These remarkable women proved they could do some of the most important work for the military during the war. Work requiring intelligence, toughness and complete confidentiality.

I found the way codes were broken and the personal stories of the women before, during, and after the war equally interesting. Certainly history that needed to be told.

I read the YA version of the book and I think it's best suited to older teens and adults. ( )
  clue | Aug 31, 2022 |
An excellent history of women (and men!) breaking enemy codes during WE II. My parents met while they worked at Arlington Hall breaking codes, married, and had me during that time. They couldn’t tell us kids what they had done during the war because of their Top Secret clearances, until the 1970’s when they finally told us when the information was declassified. My mom (now age 97) says the book is an accurate account of what she experienced. She was extremely happy to find that these important events were made accessible to the public.
  KLauterbach | Jun 12, 2022 |
This nonfiction account of the young women who worked as code-breakers during WWII joins the growing library that covers women's contributions in that conflict.

And like many young women who suddenly found themselves in the military, but not of it, they worked mostly in oblivion. Obviously, in the case of the cryptanalyts breaking German and Japanese codes during the war, their work was top-secret, and remained classified for many years after the conflict ended. And like many who joined the WAVES, the WASPs, the WAACs (and later, WACs), they often found their contributions were ignored, downplayed, or dismissed entirely.

There are interesting stories here about the business of code-breaking, but Mundy keeps the focus on the young women, following many of them through the war and their postwar experiences as well. Many shared educational backgrounds and had trained to become teachers, or had worked briefly in that field. Others were plucked out of college classrooms because they had shown strength in the fields the military had realized were crucial to code-breaking. They endured physical hardships, gender-based discrimination in advancement (and later in accessing GI Bill benefits), and coped with military bureaucracies that seldom acknowledged the value of the work they had done, even when it became possible to recognize their male co-workers after the war.

There is some repetition of material here, as Mundy doubles back to look at some events from different perspectives, and her attempt to recognize as many of the code-breakers as possible means that most of them get short shrift when revealing details of their personal lives.

Still, it's a worthwhile trip through a little-known aspect of women's contributions to a nation at war. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | May 27, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Liza Mundyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bennett, ErinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
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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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The award-winning New York Times bestseller about the American women who secretly served as codebreakers during World War II--a "prodigiously researched and engrossing" (New York Times) book that "shines a light on a hidden chapter of American history" (Denver Post). 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. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

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