Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy.
Published in Hardback by Hachette Books on 10 October 2017 with a paperback edition due in early October 2018.
From the blurb:
“Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them.
A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history…”
Howard Craston’s Review
This outstanding book looks at the many young women who wanted to help the United States during World War Two. Some were civilians, while others were in uniform as WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) or WAACs (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps). The women worked in total secrecy, unable to tell family members what they were doing to help the Allied war effort.
They were, in fact, helping the US to break enemy codes and ciphers.
The story of breaking code and ciphers in World War Two is not new, but Code Girls is the first book to tell some of the personal stories of the American women who played a vital part in helping the Allies win the war.
Liza Mundy has put together an exceptionally researched book, weaving together a unique selection of the women’s stories with the well-documented history of the US codebreaking attack. In her research Liza, worked her way through hundreds of boxes of archival material kept in the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Not content with the thousands of declassified memos, internal histories and reports, she filed declassification review requests, resulting in the release of further material including fifteen interviews between women codebreakers and NSA staff to add to over twenty interviews Liza had carried out with surviving women veterans.
If you have read “The Debs of Bletchley Park” by Michael Smith or “The Secret Life of Bletchley Park” by Sinclair McKay, then you will find the style of the book familiar.
The book tends to jump about chronologically as the women’s stories overlap in time but that would be my only criticism. I am well read on the subject of World War Two codebreaking, but I learned a lot about the American women’s roles from this fresh perspective on American codebreaking history.
I wholeheartedly recommend Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II.
Watch a talk given by the Liza Mundy for the US National Archives
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