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The Ultra Secret Mass Market Paperback – November 15, 1975


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About the Author

Group Captain Frederick Winterbotham was born in 1897. He was educated at Oxford University and served in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War. Between 1930 and 1945 he was chief of the Air Department of the Secret Intelligence Service. Throughout the war he was based at Bletchley Park, and he was awarded the CBE in 1943. He died in 1990. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reissue edition (August 15, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440190614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440190615
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book tells about the Ultra operation that broke the Enigma cypher.
Acute Observer
F.W. Winterbotham's masterful recollection of The Ultra Secret touches upon the most significant and neglected portion of WWII Allied history.
L. W. Anderson
Without this book a military student will miss one of the most strategic and most secret intelligence of all of WWII.
Correlate

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1976 "A Man Called Intrepid" was a best seller in the US. In 1977 Frederick William Winterbotham published "The Ultra Secret", about the decryption of the German Enigma systems. In 1978 "Room 3603" was reprinted. They all are important books about WW2, altho "Room 3603" starts in the 1930s and has important information about intelligence activities. Did you know that they knew how to forge typewritten documents in the 1930s?
This book tells about FWW's involvment in solving the Enigma encryption system. Like any good history, it is well written. I would recommend it highly to anyone. A later book tells more of his personal history in the 1930s. Working for the Air Ministry, he travelled to Germany to sell aircraft parts, and met many high Nazi officials. He was such a good friend of Goering that he was the only foreigner allowed to fly his airplane thru the Third Reich! He was one of the top British Nazi sympathizers at the time, until 1937: he was summoned to the Berlin Foreign Office, and given 48 hours to leave the country, "or else". They finally discovered that FWW really worked for Military Intelligence!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on October 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book tells about the Ultra operation that broke the Enigma cypher. The author operated as a secret agent in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, then was placed in charge of the Scientific Intelligence Unit. The code breaking operation followed.
Their man in Warsaw learned of the Enigma machine from a Polish mechanic, who was then exfiltrated to Paris. He duplicated the machine in wood. Next, a new cypher machine was acquired for study. They were able to break this unbreakable coding machine. He tells how carefully this information was guarded, and used. With radar and Ultra, Britain was able to efficiently use their scarce resources against larger forces. Only a small number of fighters were sent against the bombers and fighters to minimize losses to the RAF. It worked well; but afterwards Dowding was criticized for not using more fighters earlier.
Why was the Battle of the Bulge a surprise? They had come to rely on Ultra so much that they disregarded other indicators that were not confirmed by Ultra. And these plans were not broadcast by the enemy.
This was written from his own recollection, so it is not the complete history. It has nothing about the code breaking by other forces. This book provides new light on the previously known events.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
No history of WWII can be complete without a knowledge of the part Ultra played in the winning of the wars in Europe and Japan. Moreover, no one is better qualified to tell the story than F.W. Winterbotham...an outstanding book, extremely well written, easy to read, and certainly informative.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an facinating look at the world of codes and code breaking that occurred during WW II. The real allied heros are the men with exeptional mathamatical talents, who like master chessplayers are able to defeat cunning and very deadly opponents.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frank D on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
After more than 40 years, this is still arguably the most significant book on the explanation of destruction of the German war machine in the West in World War II.

Word for word, no other book so succinctly explains the single most important reason behind for the Anglo-American triumph over Hitler's armies - and simultaneously dulls the reputation of many of the `great' Allied military machismo's.

No postwar gung-ho, breast-beating memoir can be properly adjudged without reference to the up to (according to some sources) 90 000 decoded Enigma signals per month in mid-1944 that were fed to all the top American and British commanders as Ultra intelligence and spliced into Intelligence summaries at the lower echelons as well.

Winterbotham, who was in charge of the distribution of the Ultra intelligence to the highest levels, was perfectly placed to assess the critical impact of this information.

As much as Ultra resolves one mystery, it opens two others: How was it possible that the German military, who were continuously checkmated at the strategic and tactical level in every major operation from Battle of Britain, North Africa, Italy and finally Normandy, never realised or figured that their signals were being intercepted...? Overweening complacency, arrogance, stupidity alone can surely only explain this partly?

And, given that the Germans were adept at cryptography (they had also designed and cracked the`voice scrambler' system used by the British and Americans at the beginning of the war) never appeared to have been able to read the higher codes of the Allies..... Surely the Allies could not have been using the cumbersome OTP system alone....? Postwar Allied accounts are strangely mum on this issue.....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Metallurgist TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 15, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The author of this book, F.W. Winterbotham, headed the group charged with the dissemination of material gained from the deciphering of messages sent by the German Enigma cipher machine. He was not, however, involved with the deciphering process itself, and this book does not contain any details of the German Enigma machine or how its messages were deciphered. There are no pictures of Enigma machines, wiring diagrams, or details on how it was used, let alone how the British deciphered its messages. In fact Alan Turing is not even mention in the book. If you are interested in exactly how an Enigma machine operated and how its messages were one that I would recommend is "Battle of Wits" by Stephen Budiansky, or Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's "The Battle for the Code".

This book is interesting reading and puts the events of WWII in a new light, and I recommend it, even though it does not contain material about the Enigma machine itself. However, not only was Winterbotham not involved with the actual deciphering, some of his information regarding this process is wrong.

Polish workers in factories making the Enigma machines did not provide information that helped to understand how the machine operated - all of the most recent sources make it clear that this was done by a German code clerk. Also, contrary to what Winterbotham states, newer books are very clear about the fact that the Japanese had their own enciphering processes and while they may have gotten some Enigma machines from Germany, at most they only used them for communication with their German allies, and not for their own communications.
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