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Images of The National Archives: Codebreakers (Paperback)

P&S History Photographic Books

By Stephen Twigge
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Series: The National Archives
Pages: 144
Illustrations: 50 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526730800
Published: 3rd April 2020


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The book reveals the story of British Codebreakers from the reign of Elizabeth I to the Cold War. It explores the use of ciphers during the Napoleonic wars, the role of the Royal Mail’s Secret Office and the activities the Admiralty’s ‘Room 40’ leading to the creation of the Government’s Code and Cypher School. The main theme of the book are the events of the Second World War and the battle to break the German enigma codes. The centre of Britain’s codebreaking operation was located at Bletchley Park in rural Buckinghamshire and it was from here that a hastily assembled army of codebreakers battled to decipher Nazi German’s secret wartime communications. The deciphered high-level signals intelligence was known as Ultra and had a major influence on the outcome of the war, most notably contributing to crucial successes in the battle for the Atlantic and the D-Day landings in June 1944. The book also reveals the work undertaken in the Far-East and the allied efforts to break the Japanese military cipher code named Purple. The book ends with a re-assessment of the work undertaken by the British code breaker and mathematician Alan Turing and a brief overview of the codebreaking operations undertaken by GCHQ during the formative period of the Cold War.

Haunting images, and a great amount of information. I felt like I learned something valuable. The code breakers is a part of history I have always been interested and this book didn’t disappoint.

NetGalley, Amanda Wray

I love this book as it's well researched and full of facts. I liked the pictures and the documents shown.
I learned a lot about codes and cipher and it was a good read.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

I thought that this was a really interesting book and it was crammed full of detail.

I do love history and am reading more and more on the period that covers the Second World War at the moment so this was a book that was right up my street.

I already thought that Alan Turing and his team of codebreakers were fascinating but the book has made me determined now to visit the Bletchley Park site where these discoveries that most likely shortened the war took place as I want to expand my knowledge and it has really sparked an interest for me and it does make me wonder how different things may have been had they not been able to crack the codes and ciphers when they did.

The book is just under 150 pages and it is quite a quick read but I was fascinated as I was reading and I definitely felt more informed after I had finished it.

I found that the book was well written and there was just the right amount of detail, you could very easily have been overwhelmed with some of the terms that would have been used at the time but the author has kept the book concise – highly recommended!!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

The book looks at UK Signals Intelligence. It begins before WWI and goes up through the Cold War, but the emphasis is on the activities during WWII. As you might imagine from the name, the book contains many photos... If you have an interest in Bletchley Park, you will find this book of interest.

NetGalley, John Purvis

Very good introduction to the history of codes and ciphers. Many excellent pictures and reproductions of original documents and machines used in code breaking. Focuses primarily on the major code breaking events of WW1 and WW2.

NetGalley, Sandra Hood

I love history, especially military, so I was really looking forward to reading this. A well-written book with not too much information that you are overwhelmed, but a fascinating insight into codes and ciphers. Totally loved it!

NetGalley, Sandra Berryman

About Stephen Twigge

Stephen is a senior historian at The National Archives. He obtained his PhD from the Centre of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester and was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of International Politics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. During his time at The National Archives, Stephen completed a four-year secondment at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he was responsible for editing three volumes of documents on British Policy Overseas, the official record of British foreign policy. Stephen is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Peer Review College. He has published a number of books and articles on the Cold War and has made regular media appearances to discuss record releases at The National Archives.

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