The Woman Who Smashed Codes

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies

eBook - 2017
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The true story of an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II. In 1916, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the "Adam and Eve" of the NSA, Elizebeth's story, incredibly, has never been told. In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation's history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler's Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.
Publisher: New York, NY : Dey St., an imprint of William Morrow, 2017.
ISBN: 9780062430502
Branch Call Number: E-BOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xvi, 444 pages) : illustrations
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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scandora
Feb 19, 2018

Excellent, excellent. Easy to read (as the author says, you don't need to understand code to appreciate what Elizebeth did--yes, correct spelling of her name) and hard to put down. I didn't find it at all confusing as another reviewer says. Fagone did a superb job of research and revealing what this mostly unsung heroine did. From the start, he says it's a love story, and it is. But it's more than Elizebeth's love for her husband (equally brilliant at code breaking); it's also her love of this work. Highly recommended.

j
Jenkskitten
Feb 12, 2018

Reads more like a history book than a novel. Techniques on codebreaking given and how that career takes your life. Many details of other people are also included. Not much a story line that flows. Jumps back and forth from present to past, which sometimes confuses the reader. I think it could have been better written and would be more enjoyable from her point of view instead of including the tidbits of so many of the others.

e
EmilyEm
Jan 20, 2018

Fagone tells quite a story about Elizebeth Smith Friedman and her husband William who work on the front lines of defense unraveling codes during the two World Wars and lay the groundwork for the field of cryptology.

Reads like a thriller. Amazing people. Glad author researched and told this mostly hidden story. Amazing.

k
knitter2248
Nov 11, 2017

What an eye opener. So little has been published about our skilled cryptanalysts, mostly because they were never allowed to share any information about their roles in code breaking, but also because Hoover claimed all of their successes as having been done by the FBI.

The book centers around Elizabeth Smith Friedman, along with her husband William, a pioneer in the field, who's career started in WW I, through the Prohibition era, then greatly expanded in WW II. She broke the Enigma machine, possibly ahead of Britain's Bletchley Park..You'll also learn about Germany's South American plans and the spies they had hidden there.

The coverage of WW II is missing a bit, because it took Fagone two years to discover the FBI cover up. I'd like to know more and hope the upcoming book, "Code Girls" will fill in some of the details.

Highly recommended.

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