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Station X: Decoding Nazi Secrets Hardcover – January 1, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The success the Allies had breaking Nazi codes in WWII has been reliably credited with cutting three years off the time it took to defeat Germany. Central to this Herculean effort was an eccentric, motley crew assembled at an unassuming Victorian mansion just north of London, called Bletchley Park but officially dubbed Station X. The name wasn't intended to connote mystery--the tagged-on Roman numeral simply designated Bletchley as the 10th wartime installation set up by Britain's covert intelligence organization, MI6. But Station X trafficked in more than its share of intrigue over the course of the war, with code-breaking coups that included intercepting the first evidence of the Holocaust and tipping off the British naval squadron that sank the Bismarck, pride of the German fleet.

Michael Smith, the senior espionage reporter for London's Daily Telegraph, gives an intimate and intense account of the exploits of Station X by drawing on recently declassified documents and extensive interviews with many of the students, soldiers, and mathematicians who were sequestered at the top-secret site. Smith strikes an engaging balance between the human side of the effort and the nuts and bolts of the code game, giving clear explanations of how brilliant code breakers such as Alan Turing solved the puzzles the Nazis put to them. --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

A bestseller in the U.K., this gripping account of British intelligence's cracking of the Nazi Enigma machine code during WWII is the basis of a PBS Nova documentary. Billed as the first book on the subject to incorporate interviews with the code-breakers since the declassification of official files, the volume is packed with revelations and the voices of these largely unsung heroes. While most histories of Enigma focus on the top brains such as mathematician Alan Turing, Smith (New Cloak, Old Dagger, etc.), a reporter for London's Daily Telegraph, portrays the top-secret code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park ("Station X"), a quaint Victorian mansion outside London, as a vast collaborative effort involving several thousand people, the great majority of them women. An odd mix of Cambridge mathematicians, seasoned and novice code-busters, eccentrics, spies, bureaucrats, German-language students, patriotic volunteers and clerical assistants, they tell their stories with a refreshing modesty that makes their saga all the more inspiring. Without getting bogged down in technical complexities, Smith illuminates how the Bletchley Park cryptanalysts' ingenuity, obsessive persistence and "Alice in Wonderland-type thought processes" enabled them to decipher the Germans' chameleon code. The intelligence obtained from Enigma decrypts shortened the war and saved countless lives by furnishing information vital to the Allies' D-Day invasion, the British sinking of U-boats and campaigns in Italy, North Africa and the Balkans. On one level, this page-turner is a deeply satisfying parable of the power of humane intellect to defeat evil; it's also a stunning re-creation of one of the most important chapters in the war. Photos.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
24 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on July 31, 2001
5 people found this helpful
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Top international reviews

Jane Doe
3.0 out of 5 stars Station X: The Code Breakers of Bletchley Park
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 16, 2012
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colin
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Achievements by exceptional individuals.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 27, 2015
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M Pollo
5.0 out of 5 stars Station X
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 10, 2013
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D. Goadby
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet more insights
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 21, 2013
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Vuyk
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 books for the price of one
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 21, 2012
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C. Emery
5.0 out of 5 stars Station X
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 10, 2014
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Alan F
4.0 out of 5 stars Fills in most of the gaps!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 19, 2011
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Philippa Crosby
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 6, 2016
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Elaine
5.0 out of 5 stars Bletchley Park
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 12, 2014
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jimpywinky
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 28, 2013
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Stephen Harper
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 19, 2015
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Beff
4.0 out of 5 stars Station X
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 18, 2011
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Michael Buckley
5.0 out of 5 stars just what I ordered
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 11, 2014
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C J V I
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight but not much depth
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2013
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Stanley Gilbert
5.0 out of 5 stars The code breakers
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 15, 2013
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