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

by Liza Mundy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,4385213,007 (4.04)76
History. Politics. Women's Studies. Nonfiction. HTML:The award-winning New York Times bestseller about the American women who secretly served as codebreakers during World War IIâ??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 accomplishme
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» See also 76 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
This is the story of the thousands of women who were recruited to go to Washington, DC to be code-breakers during the war.

The author gives a rather thorough history of how each woman was recruited and what they left behind to go there. A big part of the book focuses on each woman’s recruitment and their lives during the war, but there are two women who are discussed the most. All of the women were breaking codes that saved thousands of lives but on the flip side they also learned of brothers, husbands or friends dying and they couldn’t do anything to save them. They were the ones that broke the code that allowed the US to intercept and take down Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. They couldn’t talk about what they were doing during that time and even for several years afterward they still could not discuss what they did.

I got a bit lost when the author was describing the additives and patterns they used to break codes but otherwise the book was very well-written and quite informative. ( )
  Cathie_Dyer | Feb 29, 2024 |
Great history of the women recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy to work as code breakers during World War II. They were recruited from top women's colleges, teacher colleges, and elsewhere because the men were being sent overseas. They were capable and broke many of the codes used by the U.S. to defeat their opponents in Europe and the Pacific. At the end of the war, they were told they could never speak about what they had done, so they didn't. Their stories might have been lost when they went back to being housewives and mothers, but for this book. ( )
  Pferdina | Feb 25, 2024 |
The subtitle says it all. Well written history that should have been well known long before Liza Mundy sat down to write about it. ( )
  ben_r47 | Feb 22, 2024 |
This non-fiction history work explores the previously untold story of the first women to officially serve the United States as part of the country’s World War II intelligence code breaking efforts and who comprised more than 50% of the 20,000 code breaking workers during the war. Personalized stories bring to live these civilian and military women’s experiences as they decrypted enemy messages throughout the war. Ms. Mundy uses these richly detailed accounts to weave through the overall story of the history of code-breaking efforts as well as the challenges faced by the Alllies during this period, what social conditions were like, workplace and living conditions, and the personal , sometimes tragic stories of their brothers, sweethearts, and husbands. The research in records, declassified personnel reviews, unit rosters, declassified memos, and other official documents is enhanced by the oral histories taken by Ms. Mundy of some of the surviving women, who swore an oath to keep their work secret, and which most of them did until the government allowed them to speak 50 years after the events. We also get a good glimpse of pioneer “Code Girl” Agnes Driscoll, a young mathematics teacher recruited initially to be a stenographer in the 1920s and who began to methodically decode messages from the Japanese fleet in the two decades leading up to Japan’s entry into World War II and who continued to fight for pay parity for the women workers being paid less than their male counterparts doing the same work. In addition, Ms. Mundy links the work of some of these women to key turning points in several battles, where the intelligence helped the US win decisive victories. At times the book’s narrative is choppy and a little hard to follow, but for the most part, the book reads like a novel and amply illuminates the substantial contributions women made in intelligence gathering that helped turned the tide of the war and ultimate led to victory. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
Simply splendid. What a great story. And to think, it has been untold till now. So many bright young women, snatched from rural life and ordinary college work to take up breaking enemy codes during the Second World War. I enjoyed every page. Bring on more untold stories like this one! ( )
  fmclellan | Jan 23, 2024 |
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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
Dedication
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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History. Politics. Women's Studies. Nonfiction. HTML:The award-winning New York Times bestseller about the American women who secretly served as codebreakers during World War IIâ??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 accomplishme

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