Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #HistoricalFiction CODE BREAKER GIRLS: A Secret Life At Bletchley Park by @JanSSlimming @penswordbooks

Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley ParkCodebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park by Jan Slimming

4 stars

Code Breaker Girls: A Secret Life At Bletchley Park. This is a biography of Daisy Lawrence who was just one of the many women employed by the secret service during the second World War.

Written by Daisy’s daughter after her mother’s death, this book attempts to piece together the war years of Daisy’s life which she kept a secret from her family for most of her lifetime.

I would describe this as a memorial to a mother whose mental health deteriorated almost certainly because she couldn’t talk about her war work, rather than diving deep into Daisy’s role and her work on the wartime codes, and it doesn’t give much insight into the work of other lesser known women.

The author went on to set this against a background of what has been revealed about Bletchley Park and how the surrounding pre- and post-war years affected Daisy and her family.

As a piece of history this was an interesting book, and it was such a shame that Daisy died without sharing her war story with her family; so much went to the grave with her and the family can only make guesses about what she did during the war. Her years of post-war struggle and her mental breakdowns were so sad to read about, especially in the twenty-first century where mental health is now treated differently.

I did expect a different book from the book title; I thought that there would be a big expose about what a group or groups of women did there during the war, so I was disappointed that the lives of Daisy and her friends remains a secret; however, there was quite a bit that I learnt about the subject as a whole from the background information. So overall, I did enjoy the book and found plenty of information that keep me entertained.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

“What would it be like to keep a secret for fifty years? Never telling your parents, your children, or even your husband?”

Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park tells the true story of Daisy Lawrence. Following extensive research, the author uses snippets of information, unpublished photographs and her own recollections to describe scenes from her mother’s poor, but happy, upbringing in London, and the disruptions caused by the outbreak of the Second World War to a young woman in the prime of her life.

The author asks why, and how, Daisy was chosen to work at the Government war station, as well as the clandestine operation she experienced with others, deep in the British countryside, during a time when the effects of the war were felt by everyone. In addition, the author examines her mother’s personal emotions and relationships as she searches for her young fiance, who was missing in action overseas. The three years at Bletchley Park were Daisy’s university, but having closed the door in 1945 on her hidden role of national importance — dealing with Germany, Italy and Japan — this significant period in her life was camouflaged for decades in the filing cabinet of her mind. Now her story comes alive with descriptions, original letters, documents, newspaper cuttings and unique photographs, together with a rare and powerful account of what happened to her after the war.

Pen and Sword | AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #HistoricalFiction Based on Real Events ON THE ROOF GANG by Matt Zullo

The US Navy's On-the-Roof Gang: Volume I - Prelude to WarThe US Navy’s On-the-Roof Gang: Volume I – Prelude to War by Matt Zullo

3 stars

On The Roof Gang is historical fiction based around real events and real characters. It’s about the U.S. naval men who were trained to work in radio listening posts across the Pacific in the prelude to World War Two and specifically the run-up to the Japanese/American declaration of war and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The premise of this story reminded me of films I had enjoyed set in this era, as well as the codes and coding element that links to my fascination with espionage. I was interested in how the men were trained to decipher the Japanese messages and transpose them, while the problems associated with setting up of listening posts where local radio signals hampered the listeners was an issue that I had never considered.

Matt Zullo is a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer who has more than 35 years’ experience in Radio Intelligence. According to his Amazon author bio, he is one of only a few quantifiable experts on the subject of the On-The-Roof-Gang. Matt’s naval knowledge shines through in this book
and I can see its appeal to fellow naval enthusiasts; however, I do think that to reach a wider audience the story needs more work to make it an entertaining piece of fictional writing. In its current format it reminds me of a naval report and all the many names and ranks just went over my head. For me there were too many mundane navy related details, but not enough memorable story parts set in the listening posts. What I also missed was any empathy and engagement with the characters, which I need to make a piece of fiction a delight to read. So overall, the story was great on the facts but the method of delivery, for fiction, needed more work.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

THE US NAVY’S ON-THE-ROOF GANG: VOLUME I – PRELUDE TO WAR is an historical novel based on the unknown true-life story of the “On-The-Roof Gang,” the U.S. Navy’s fledgling radio intelligence organization in the years leading up to World War II. It is based on the real life of Harry Kidder, a U.S. Navy radioman who first discovered and deciphered Japanese katakana telegraphic code while stationed in the Philippines in the 1920s, discovering the he was listening to Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) radio communications. Kidder strongly believed in the future of radio intelligence and a chance meeting with Lieutenant Laurance Safford led to the birth of the Navy’s Radio Intelligence community. Kidder taught others the nascent art of intercepting IJN communications on the roof of the Main Navy Building in Washington, DC. From 1928 to 1941, 176 Sailors and Marines attended this training and were then stationed as radio intercept operators around the Pacific. These men would become known as the On-The-Roof-Gang and were charged with keeping track of the IJN as they prepared for war with the United States. The circumstances of America’s entry into World War II hinged on the success or failure of the On-The-Roof-Gang, and Harry Kidder knew this. On-the-Roof-Gang: Prelude to War concludes with the “date which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

The US Navy's On-the-Roof Gang: Volume I - Prelude to War by [Matt Zullo]