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The American Black Chamber (Bluejacket Books) Paperback – January 15, 2013
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The book is fascinating, well written and filled with stories of stealing code books, beautiful female spies. And better descriptions of how to break codes that I've seen in any of the other books on the history of code breaking (maybe because the codes in the 1920's were simpler minded than later Enigma machines).
This book ties in very well with the new book The Reader of Gentlemens Mail.
Yardley was an egotist, and never hesitated to take first person credit for work actually performed by subordinates, according to people who knew him. In any case, it makes a great read!
Because of security restrictions, Maj Yardley wasn't able to publish his book in the US legally, so his work-around was to have it published in the United Kingdom in 1931. When I learned that it had been republished and was available through Amazon, I immediately ordered a copy and read it again 30 years later.
This book gives insight into the fledgling cryptologic effort, referred to as the American Black Chamber, begun by the US in World War I. The effort literally started from scratch and existed on a shoestring budget, with Maj Yardley and a handful of others usually working very long hours. By 1929, after years of hard work, the "Chamber" had developed into a relatively sophisticated, successful operation.
Regrettably, naivete ruled the day when President Hoover's new Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson (This effort was a State Department function back then.), upon learning of the existence of the Chamber, was horrified that we would even think of "spying" on someone else ("Gentlemen do not read each other's mail."). He summarily had the Chamber abolished, so all that work went down the tubes until later on when it had to be rebuilt for the effort of World War II.
It is an ironic footnote in history that by the time Mr. Secretary Stimson became Secretary of War during World War II, his views of the importance of cryptologics had changed--as did those of others in the military and diplomatic spheres of influence.
Read all about it. This is excellent reading, and it brings to life the difficulties and accomplishments of the American Black Chamber.
Very much an eye-opener.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great look at U.S. History from a totally new perspective. Timely too, based on Apple's battle with the FBI. It would be interesting to hear Yardley's perspective on that.Published 4 months ago by Common Sense
Extremely interesting look at the beginnings of code breaking. I read this decades ago and reordered it to replace the original. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gerald B. Boyette
Might have been a good book back in its day but falls short of information.Published 20 months ago by Wrinkles
Yardley basically invented USA code and cipher decrypting during World War I. He recruited the smartest scholars he could find -- and learned quickly that what he needed were men... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jeanne B.