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Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park Paperback – August 9, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0192801326 ISBN-10: 0192801325 Edition: Reissue

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Frequently Bought Together

Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park + Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film "The Imitation Game" + The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (August 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801326
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 4.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This set of 27 personal narratives by British code breakers who served at the famous Bletchley Park center during World War II does not require much background on cryptography or even much interest in the subject. It offers the human side of an operation more secret than and just as critical to Allied victory as anything in the war except the Manhattan Project. For the most part, the men and women involved herein tell their stories with simple eloquence. It is fortunate that they were released from their Official Secrets Act oaths before time silenced them forever. Roland Green --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review


"A fascinating and unique book. For the first time--and in their own words--the men and women of Bletchley Park describe in detail how they broke the most secret codes of Germany and Japan. Complex, evocative and engrossing, it is the story of an unprecedented intellectual achievement which not only shortened the war and saved millions of lives but also helped forge the modern age. Anyone who is interested in military or scientific history will want to read it."--Robert Harris


Customer Reviews

Love the book, fascinating history of /Bletchley park!
Sherlock Holmes Fan
The actual running of the Collossus, Tunney, and other machines was too detailed for me to understand completely. would have liked more personal stories.
George H. Rowe
This book is a collection of personal narratives of life at Bletchley and how tedious most of the work there was, no matter how essential.
El Cutachero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
When I purchased this book I expected a coherent study of what Bletchley Park was like during its WWII heyday. I knew that its contents were derived from the collected input of a number of people who were at Bletchley at that time. It is actually a collection of short essays by these people. Each has a slightly different theme and focus. Some of the essay were quite interesting, but over all, I did not come away with any kind of coherent understanding of how Bletchley Park operated, what it was like to work there, etc. I wish there had been an over-arching narrative to tie the pieces together.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 1997
Format: Paperback
Having read Codebreakers and studied BP's work, I must call this book required reading for anyone interested in the most secret aspects of WW2.
The first hand accounts allow you to experience the atmosphere of comaraderie under intense pressure. More importantly, these mini-memoirs demonstrate the monumental intellectual efforts needed to break, daily, dozens of different Enigma ciphers.
The "dry, uninteresting administrative work" was the cornerstone upon which Ultra was built: without definitive indexes and dictionaries how were the decrypts to be interpreted and put into the proper context? Without the bureaucratic machinery in place to deliver the vital intelligence to leaders and commands, what use would it be? Bletchley Park was not about flying spies into enemy territory. The un-sung heroism of those working behind the scenes lay in a subtler realm, but the codebreakers did manage to shorten the war by several months at least.
Readers, be thankful for the glimpse into genuine genius: sparkling mathematical genius (like Turing or Welchman) as well as the other intellectual giants of the "dry administrative" field (like Sir F.H.Hinsley).
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By El Cutachero on September 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
When the gag order was finally lifted circa 1970 on the Bletchley Park operations, a lot of scientific, historical, and technical histories appeared. And there was a great hue and cry among military and political historians that the whole history of the British and American war against Hitlerian Germany would have to be rewritten. Well, much of that has been proven to be just hyperbole but it is generally agreed that the war was shortened by about two years. But the closer the Allies got to Germany the less role Bletchley played for the German forces used landlines for most strategic communications from mid 1944 on. Also they had another machine known as FISH which was not as easily read as Enigma. This book is a collection of personal narratives of life at Bletchley and how tedious most of the work there was, no matter how essential. Harry Hinsley, one of the authors, was a "whiz kid" recruited directly from university and after the war became a professor without ever completing his studies. Over the years he has written the monumental multivolume official history of British intelligence operations in WW II and many historical papers. Alan Stripp, was one of the original operatives and served for many years.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Victor A. Vyssotsky on January 10, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a set of essays by people who actually worked at Bletchley Park during World War II, and describes in some detail what they did. Much of it is dry reading. That's because real cryptology is mostly dry work; months of boredom interrupted by moments of joy or chagrin. For those who care about World War II cryptology this is a "must read," but read either the 1967 or the 1996 edition of David Kahn's "The Codebreakers" first; otherwise, some of this book won't make much sense, for lack of context.
Some of the most interesting work done at Bletchley Park, and some of the most valuable people who worked there, are not mentioned at all in this book; not even a hint. I assume this is because of two problems: the British Official Secrets Act presumably still applies to a good deal of what happened at Bletchley Park, and the topics of inquiry that involved both British and American personnel could hardly be described in detail without the agreement of NSA, which might be hard to come by in some cases. I wish that two friends of mine who worked at Bletchley Park had been able to write memoirs of their work and their interactions with colleagues. But that didn't happen. However, we can hope that the remaining veil of official silence will be lifted some day.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jose_monkey_org on October 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
like some other reviewers, this wasn't what i was expecting, but i was reasonably pleased with what i found. this book is a series of narratives by various people who worked at GC&CS (later to become CGCHQ) and Bletchley Park during WWII. their stories typically recount how they were recruited, their nervousness, and their most memorable moments. some authors describe how the codebreaking operations worked, including some of the machinery, which itself was fascinating.

the whole book isn't all cryptographers and code breakers, some of it is written by WRNS (or Wrens, young women in the naval reserves) who assisted the operation. and not all contributions were truly seen as positive, the final story describes a woman who left feeling as though she had contributed little to shortening the war.

it's good that there are multiple perspectives, although some of the overlap in the tales gets a bit frustrating. still, the length of the typical piece means that the story is over before it drags on too long, and others you wish went on longer.

the organization is good, the stories are arranged to slowly immerse you into the work and the world of Bletchley Park in the war.

the book doesn't just cover engma operations at BP, it includes some tales of field operations (which sounded quite daring and thrilling), and some work to crack japanese naval codes (the last section focuses on this).

probably best in conjunction with an official history. lots of good references are listed in the book, and some nice diagrams to contribute to the technical side of things.
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