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Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943 Hardcover – March 1, 1991
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From Library Journal
F.W. Winterbotham's The Ultra Secret (LJ 2/1/75) was the first book to reveal how the Allies broke the main German code system in World War II. Many books, such as Ron Lewin's Ultra Goes To War (LJ 12/15/78), have since expanded upon the process and its impact on the war effort. Kahn, a noted historian of codebreaking, provides a specialized part of the story not previously detailed. He underscores the strategic importance of submarine warfare in the Atlantic, giving a balanced account of the ultimate importance of codebreaking in that arena. High drama at sea seizing German codebooks and equipment and analytical genius ashore were essential. Kahn describes both of these matching efforts expertly. Informed laypersons and specialists will find this book valuable and intriguing. Recommended.
- George H. Siehl, Library of Congress
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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David Kahn does a wonderful job of making a difficult subject come alive. He writes with clarity and with a flair for the dramatic, which should satisfy both those who are seeking technical details and narrative history. I have read and reviewed many books on the Enigma machine and the Ultra secret and I now see that this book is one of the primary sources for those that followed it. The depth of technical detail is impressive, although I found some of the drawings and discussions of the operation of the Enigma machine to be superior in Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's "Enigma The Battle for the Code" and Stephen Budansky's "Battle of Wits".
"Seizing the Enigma" is a worthy companion to David Kahn's comprehensive study of code and codebreakers that is contained in his 1200-page book "Codebreakers". While the second edition of the book, written in 1996, came out after the information concerning the Ultra Secret became public, it contained only a very short addendum on this subject. "Seizing the Enigma", rectifies this omission and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in WWII and in codes and ciphers in general
The book's focus is much more on the history of Enigma than on the technical aspects of Enigma or cryptography in general. However, There is also a lot of general "best practices" information to be gleaned from this book. (Admittedly, a background in cryptography or information security will help). Principles such as protecting the cipher, security through obscurity, brute forcing, key rotation, and others are all dealt with, although they are rarely called by those titles.
Overall this book is a very good look into some of the early history of modern cryptography.
BUT if you want the whole story this is by far the best source of info on breaking the ENIGMA codes and I have read many of the other sources for how this break was accomplished..