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Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II


Based on newly declassified documents, this is the first complete story of Allied code-breaking in World War II - the compelling tale of codebreaking's golden age. In 1939 cryptoanalysis was in its infancy, its practitioners' skills rudimentary and untried. The codebreakers faced huge barriers of official indifference and - from the military bureaucracy - even contempt for their work. Yet during the course of the war these men and women accomplished extraordinary feats of mathematical wizardry that turned the tide of many critical battles. New Stephen Budiansky tells their story. From the fight against the Nazi U-boats in the Atlantic, to the climactic showdown against Yamamoto's aircraft carriers at Midway, and the success of the D-Day invasion, "Battle of Wits" reveals the "shadow war" that lay behind the famous events of World War II, and breathes life into unsung heroes whose work has been wrapped in secrecy for decades. Drawing on literally thousands of previously unseen files, Budiansky provides lucid explanations of how the most impenetrable of Axis codes were actually broken - including the German ENIGMA and Japanese "Purple" machines - and traces the origins of the top-secret project, codenamed VENONA, that broke the Soviet spy codes in one of the most incredible cryptoanalytic feats of all time. Hide synopsis

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Reviews of Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II

Overall customer rating: 5.000
Raymond A
by Raymond A on Nov 24, 2011

This book is outstanding! It details the American side of the WW II code beakers. Contains many facts which do not appear in other books on the subject.



by Pianopete on Aug 16, 2007

Facinating.... facinating. If you have an interest in WW2 history plus cryptoanalysis (signal intelligence analysis), then this is a four+ star recommended read..... tho it is easy reading about the intelligence gathering organizations of the US and Britian from about 1930 thru the end of WW2, there is a fair amount of technical discussions of encryption and cryptoanalysis methods that would probably not make if of interest to everyone. For me, the presentation of the relation between the government and military departments of the US and Britian was were particularly interesting and enlightening...... thing were tense most of the time... in fact, the British just didn't trust the US with intelligence secrets.... i.e., cryptoanalysis methods and results, and then there was Stalin to deal with also. The book also paints a picture of the mood and cultural bias of the civilian population, the government, and military of both countries at the beginning and during the war that in many ways was surprising looking from our prespective today. This is a history book, but it is not dry boring reading. It is not a political book. It is about seemingly impossible tasks people can accomplish when defending liberty, family, and country. If you like reading WW2 history, you will enjoy.

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