Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park Paperback – September 25, 2012
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"Five stars." - Sunday Telegraph
Top Customer Reviews
The work of code breaking started out small. It was spearheaded by some key players from WWI. These men were the ones who had the vision to expand this work during the Second World War. To do this they not only gathered their former colleagues but they went to some top English schools and discreetly asked the professors who of their students might be good at this work. In short it was an old boys club....but what a club! These were the best and the brightest...and sometimes titled....of their generation. This was also the era of the gifted amateur and so this was another group that was gradually folded in. These amateurs were sometimes working class with brilliant minds and a driving work ethic that was ratcheted up even tighter by the Park's shared purpose. Then there were the WRENS and other women who ran their feet off delivering messages between huts, typing, and creating a complex filing system so the already decoded messages could be collated easily against newly translated ones. Bletchley was a closed community so it also required waitresses and cleaners. The truly amazing thing is no one betrayed the secret that was Bletchley! Well almost no one but there was some clever damage control in these cases though it happened seldom.Read more ›
If you're interested in individual's daily life during WWII, this book will interest you. Serious students of the ebb and flow of the war itself would be better served by other works.
There are other books which explain how the Enigma code was cracked, and about the technological advances made at Bletchley which were the foundation for other technological advances, but this book talks about the lives of the people who worked there, and, most interestingly, explains the boredom of much of the work, and how not every single person located there was a codebreaker, but nonetheless treats their experiences with real respect.
If I have any criticisms, they are focused on simply not being able to interview more people. Their insights are quite the most interesting thing about the book, and remind me of speaking to my parents about their wartime experiences, but the passing of time has meant that many of these people have now passed on, and the secrecy and lack of records has meant finding those still with us, who might be willing to share their experiences, is incredibly difficult. It's such a shame.Read more ›
It wasn't until over 30 years later that the requirement of silence was lifted. During all those years, unlike other wartime groups, Bletchley Park's personnel had no reunions and were deprived of the chance to sit and reminisce with old colleagues. By the time they could share their stories with their families, most of their parents had died.
Much has been written about how Germany's Enigma code was broken at Bletchley Park--or BP, as it was often called--but Sinclair McKay's principal focus in this insightful book is the people there; who they were, their working and living conditions, and the social environment in this hothouse atmosphere. And what a grab-bag of personnel BP was. University dons, debutantes and inner-circle graduates of Eton and Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge worked alongside the working class--mostly young women--with little of the social stratification that normally typified British life. Because of their long working hours and strict secrecy, they had to entertain themselves in their off hours. And they did, with amateur theatricals, singing groups, dancing, films, tennis, hiking and chess and bridge games.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I must admit I didn't read this book, it was a gift for my dad. We enjoyed The Imitation Game, but I wanted to get him something with more facts and less personal stuff. Read morePublished 1 month ago by K Kristan
Book arrived ok, on time, interesting time of WWII, easy readingPublished 2 months ago by Susan Harris Pearce
Bletchley Park was a unique place and time. This book examines the codebreaking work and some of the individuals working at BP. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Cathy Barber
Recently I saw the 2014 film The Imitation Game about British Intelligence’s codebreaking of German communications during World War II. Read morePublished 4 months ago by RRC