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The Secret Lives Of Code Breakers (2000)

by Sinclair McKay(Favorite Author)
3.6 of 5 Votes: 4
review 1: This is not a book for the more technically minded readers who will find much of the narrative superficial and would fail to appreciate from its pages that this was the dawn of the computer age. Nor is it a history of British Intelligence operations in WWII. But for the general reader this a very accessible and engaging human story of the daily lives of the code breakers at Bletchley Park whose numbers swelled from the 'hunting party' that arrived in 1939 to the 9,000 who traipsed in from outlying billets by the end of the War six years later. With a very light brush the author draws a social history made up of detailed eye witness accounts and surviving documents, which give the text an immediacy and vividly illustrates the human ability to draw laughter in the toughest m... moreost challenging situations. Living as we do in an age where nothing is secret it was a startling contrast to discover people living very separate and discrete lives in such close confines bound by Official Secrets Act.
review 2: A year ago I visited Bletchley Park on the recommendation of our UK coach driver. We had a little extra time but since I had never heard of Bletchley Park I didn't a little apprehensive. As we toured the facility and grounds I kept wondering how I could have completely missed learning about this in my education? Nevertheless, it was fascinating. I walked away from the tour determined to learn more and this book added provided that knowledge. The author gives a generally chronological account of the founding and development of the work of these people who were mostly young. I was a little concerned at first that this was going to be an account built around salacious details of their personal lives. In fact, though these people worked closely together when on duty and probably did connect personally, the book only hints at some of these extra-curricular activities. True, some lifelong friendships were formed and a number of the workers ended up married. The book, however, focused on their work and what they accomplished during the war years. The personalities were colorful and proved extremely competent. It was interesting to read how the leaders in the early years worked to recruit the brightest young people from universities but they couldn't tell them for what they were being recruited. Quite a trick! They pulled it off and they were immensely successful. As an American, I found interesting the competition between the different nations and personalities. The story of the challenges they faced and how them met them includes many twists and turns, which the author reports with moderate success. Because I am very interested in Bletchley Park I found the book very engrossing but not everyone will have the same level of interest. less
Reviews (see all)
A really good book, more of a social history than a military one. I couldn't put it down.
Should have been interesting, but it was pretty poorly written.
Really interesting to see the human side of Bletchley Park.
Not very technical (a plus for some) but very interesting.
Interesting history of a very special time and place.
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