3 Fascinating podcasts about Bletchley Park

Click the link below to listen to 3 fascinating podcasts about Bletchley Park given by 3 expert researchers and writers into subject of the Government Code & Cypher School (GC&CS) during World War 2 at Bletchley Park and its post-war form as the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The 3 podcasts about Bletchley Park are taken from the talks hosted in May by Warwick University Business School (WBS), who later made these talks freely available online.

I had the pleasure of attending the talks and have enjoyed the opportunity to listen to them again. I can wholeheartedly recommend that you listen.

These talented writers are:

‘Professor Chris Grey, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, who has recently published his book Decoding Organization: Bletchley Park, Codebreaking and Organization Studies explores how Bletchley Park was made as an organisation.

What was its culture and how was its work co-ordinated? Challenging many popular perceptions Chris examines the complexities of how 10,000 people were brought together in complete secrecy and yet worked as a team. Listen to Chris Grey’s podcast as he explores the legacy of Bletchley Park here‘.

michael smith‘Michael Smith who is an award-winning journalist and number one best-selling author. Michael is a member of the board of the Bletchley Park Trust and an expert on codebreaking, espionage and how spies operate.

Listen as Michael talks on Bletchley Park, The Secrets of Station X: How the Bletchley Park Codebreakers Helped Win the War.’

Michael Smith is a prolific writer and a true expert on all things Bletchley Park. I have included the full catalogue of his work in the slideshow below. He writes for readers of all levels – those who want a general overview of Bletchley Park and for those who are after more technical detail.

I can’t stress enough that if you want to know about the ‘true’ Bletchley Park, then add Michael Smith’s books to your reading list.

You can listen to his podcast here and view learn more about this writer and Bletchley Park advocate on his website.

‘Last but certainly not least, listen to Richard Aldrich, Professor of International Security at the University of Warwick who is an expert in the technology of secrecy – particularly secure communications. Richard talks about what happened to Bletchley Park after the end of the Second World War and how it transformed into GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency.

You can listen to his WBS audio podcast here and read more about him on his faculty profile page here.

You can also download the accompanying slides for these 3 fascinating podcasts as a PDF here on the WBS website. There are also links to each of the podcasts. Any of the quoted material on this blog post has been taken from that page.

I would like to thank Warwick Business School for making these 3 fascinating podcasts about Bletchley Park available.

I purchased Decoding Organization: Bletchley Park, Codebreaking and Organization Studies as it is relevant to my book research for ‘Captain Ridley’s Shooting Party’.

Despite the breathtakingly steep purchase price, I have found it fascinating to read how Chris Grey unravels and explains the complex and often chaotic organisational set up of Bletchley Park during World War 2. There is so much of interest to me in this book that it is now a rainbow of post-it notes.

The book has a more essay style of writing, with each section contain a clear question, analysis and conclusion. It contains comprehensive notes and references that made me purr with delight.

GCHQby Richard Aldrich is essential reading to understand how GC&CS at Bletchley Park evolves into the GCHQ now based in Cheltenham. What is particularly astonishing is how he gathered the information without access to GCHQ’s archives.

Due to national security the archives are kept closed but Richard Aldrich carried out extensive research into connecting government departments and sources, where documents are available in the National Archives. It is therefore completely uncensored and provides a fascinating insight into Britain’s most secret intelligence agency.

He has an engaging style as a writer and a speaker and successfully pitches the book at a level that makes it accessible to the non-expert, like myself.

I decided to include a slide show of all Michael Smith’s book as there are many. Take a few minutes to view them below. Click on any book and you will be taken to more information on the Amazon website.

However, I want to highlight 2 books in particular. For a general overview of the Bletchley Park story I recommend starting with The Secrets of Station X: How the Bletchley Park codebreakers helped win the war. It was an earlier version of this book that first gave me the ‘facts’ about Bletchley Park. The book gives you unbiased facts and does not cast a glow of ‘collegiate’ Brideshead Revisited life over what Bletchley Park was like during the war.

The second of Michael Smith’s books I want to mention is Action This Day. This is one of my favourite Bletchley Park books because it can never be written again. It is brimming with the personal accounts of some of the brilliant people who worked at Bletchley Park as written by them. Some chapters do go into rather technical details, which I find challenging because the complex aspects of the codebreaking process are not my area of expertise. I regularly reread the chapters just to hear the voices of the codebreakers and hope that one day the technical detail will imprint in my brain!

Action This Day is also mentioned here because it has chapters written by all 3 of the authors we’ve mentioned here.

  • Chris Grey contributed 2 chapters – Bletchley Park in Pre-War Perspective and Bletchley Park in Post-War Perspective.
  • Michael Smith is the editor of the book along with Ralph Erskine, another Bletchley Park expert. Michael also  contributes 3 chapters The Government Code and Cypher School and the First Cold War; An Undervalued Effort: How the British Broke Japan’s Codes;  as well as Bletchley Park, Double Cross and D-Day.
  • Richard Aldrich writes the penultimate chapter, Cold War Codebreaking and Beyond: The Legacy of Bletchley Park.

It is quite easy to see the origins of the later books written by these authors….

Action this day has recently been redesigned and reissued as The Bletchley Park Codebreakers (Dialogue Espionage Classics). I believe it has all the accounts in the original book as well as an extra chapter about the Japanese JN-25 code.

Reading any of Michael Smith’s books are a joy. I hope you find something that you like. If you have read any of his books, feel free to leave a comment so we can all benefit from your tips.

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