Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #NonFiction Images Of The National Archives: Code Breakers by Stephen Twigge @UkNatArchives @penswordpub

Images of The National Archives: CodebreakersImages of The National Archives: Codebreakers by Stephen Twigge

4 stars

Images Of The National Archives: Code Breakers. This is a non-fiction book about the coding and cipher history of the British Secret Service.

Ciphers have been used for hundreds of years with documentation about them starting during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. They continued to be used through the Napoleonic wars and are most famous for their uses during both World Wars and later during the Cold War.

Alongside the easy to read explanations about codes, coding and their differences from a cipher, the author outlines the way coding changed and the impact of Alan Turing’s work at Bletchley during World War Two. The book is also a rich source of black and white images of a wide range of codes, de-coding, photos, letters and maps, many obtained from the National Archives.

I have an interest in the role of spies and have recently read another book about Ian Fleming and his inspiration for the James Bond stories. Several times while reading Code Breakers, familiar names and information about machines, like the German Enigma, cropped up which had me nodding along in recognition. As I said, the subject fascinates me, so I did enjoy this quick and easy read.

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Book description

The book reveals the story of British Codebreakers from the reign of Elizabeth I to the Cold War. It explores the use of ciphers during the Napoleonic wars, the role of the Royal Mail’s Secret Office and the activities the Admiralty’s ‘Room 40’ leading to the creation of the Government’s Code and Cypher School. The main theme of the book are the events of the Second World War and the battle to break the German enigma codes. The centre of Britain’s codebreaking operation was located at Bletchley Park in rural Buckinghamshire and it was from here that a hastily assembled army of codebreakers battled to decipher Nazi German’s secret wartime communications. The deciphered high-level signals intelligence was known as Ultra and had a major influence on the outcome of the war, most notably contributing to crucial successes in the battle for the Atlantic and the D-Day landings in June 1944. The book also reveals the work undertaken in the Far-East and the allied efforts to break the Japanese military cipher code named Purple. The book ends with a re-assessment of the work undertaken by the British code breaker and mathematician Alan Turing and a brief overview of the codebreaking operations undertaken by GCHQ during the formative period of the Cold War.

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The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay #nonfiction #WW2 #TuesdayBookBlog

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The WWII Codebreaking Centre and the Men and Women Who Worked ThereThe Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The WWII Codebreaking Centre and the Men and Women Who Worked There by Sinclair McKay

4 stars

The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park is a non-fiction examination of the lives of those enlisted for the vital job of deciphering coded messages during the Second World War.

Because of certain laws contained within the Official Secrets Act, and because countries around the world continued to use similar coding techniques after the war, the decoders were not allowed to speak about their experiences at Bletchley until the 1970s.

During the war, Bletchley became a nerve centre of secret information. It was the home of a mix of people drawn from many areas of society whose job was to decode messages collected from a range of listening posts across Britain and the world. The most famous of these was the Enigma coding technology, used by the German military forces.

This book reveals the lives of ordinary men and women who worked alongside pioneers like Alan Turing as they cracked codes and created decoding machines to help them with their work. Afterwards, the blanket of silence meant many missed recognition for their efforts, the comradeship of reunions and often the opportunity to tell their family about the part they played in the war.

I’ve always been interested in these coding secrets. There was plenty to keep me reading, without going into too much technical detail. This book is just one of many memoirs written by both men and women who were involved in the workings of Bletchley Park. One day I would like to visit the museum which now preserves some of their work.

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Bletchley Park was where one of the war’s most famous and crucial achievements was made: the cracking of Germany’s Enigma code in which its most important military communications were couched. This country house was home to Britain’s most brilliant mathematical brains, like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology—indeed, the birth of modern computing. The military codes deciphered there were instrumental in turning both the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in North Africa. But, though plenty has been written about the scientists and the codebreaking, fictional and non-fiction—from Robert Harris and Ian McEwan to Andrew Hodges’ biography of Turing—what of the thousands of men and women who lived and worked there during the war? The first history for the general reader of life at Bletchley Park, this is also an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their eighties of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds (a depressed Angus Wilson, the novelist, once threw himself in), of a youthful Roy Jenkins—useless at codebreaking, of the high jinks at nearby accommodation hostels, and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each other’s work.

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