Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 18 Nov 2015
Intelligence had been an integral part of war since the start of human civilization. During the European War, with its survival dependent on supplies coming from abroad, the British military devoted resources to cracking the series of ever-more-complex German military codes using the Enigma machines. David Kahn's Seizing the Enigma detailed not only the fundamentals of cryptology and cryptanalysis, but also the history of British forces' capture of keys and ciphering machines. The intervening narrations of naval engagements reminded me the importance of intercepting and reading enemy messages, while anecdotes about the key code breaking personnel ensured that the collective accomplishments of Allied code breaking would not remain anonymous. I particularly enjoyed two side points, though not off-topic points, made by the author. The first was his venture into the successful German breaking of Allied code in the first half of the war, something generally ignored by other authors. The other was his concluding paragraph that put the code breaking effort into perspective of the entire war, in that the success hastened the end of the European War thus saved a great number of lives, but even if the Allies failed in this effort, the ultimate outcome of the war might be the same.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Bernard Mayes did a wonderful job with the reading, albeit his pace was a tad bit slow for my personal preference. I enjoyed his performance very much.
I found Seizing the Enigma to be a wonderful book on the intellectual battle on German cryptography, and I would certainly recommend this title.
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