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Voices of the Codebreakers (Paperback)

Personal accounts of the secret heroes of World War II

Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: WWII WWII > Bletchley Park & the Codebreakers

By Michael Paterson
Greenhill Books
Pages: 304
Illustrations: 16pages b/w illustrations
ISBN: 9781784383138
Published: 3rd July 2018
Last Released: 28th July 2020



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Alongside the open conflict of World War II there were other, hidden wars - the wars of communication, in which success depended on a flow of concealed and closely-guarded information.

Smuggled written messages, secretly transmitted wireless signals, or months of eavesdropping on radio traffic meant operatives could discover in advance what the enemy intended to do. This information was passed on to those who commanded the armies, the fleets and the bomber formations, as well as to the other secret agents throughout the world who were desperately trying to infiltrate enemy lines. Vital information that turned the tide of battle in North African desert and on the Pacific Ocean proved to have been obtained by the time-consuming and unglamorous work of cryptanalysts who deciphered the enemy's coded messages, and coded those for the Allies.

From the stuffy huts of Bletchley Park to the battles in the Mediterranean, the French and Dutch Resistance movements and the unkempt radio operatives in Burma, the rarely-seen, outstanding stories collected here reveal the true extent of the 'secret war'.

The ongoing need for secrecy for decades after the war meant that the outstanding achievements of wartime cryptanalysts could not be properly recognised.

With vivid first-hand accounts and illuminating historical research, VOICES OF THE CODEBREAKERS reveals and finally celebrates the extraordinary accomplishments of these ordinary men and women.

Quoting from the personal accounts of many of those who worked in the Radio Security Service or at Bletchley Park or involved in innumerable efforts at signal interception and decryption around the world, Paterson has stitched together a fascinating read. Over 288 pages, these stories show the breadth of radio activities that took place during World War II from before the start of hostilities to the battle for the Atlantic, the North Africa and Italy campaigns, the Resistance, the war in the Pacific and eventual victory in Europe and over Japan.

The stories told in “Voices of the Code Breakers,” are the actual words of the men and women who lived these stories and add immeasurably to the true understanding of this aspect of the war.

The Spectrum Monitor, July 2020

I recommend this book to people interested in WWII, particularly in the role the communication specialists and the code breakers played in shortening the length of the war. Anybody researching the topic will find it full of useful material, and the bibliography and the list of documents will further assist their search. And, casual readers will likely feel, like me, amazed at how these people managed to crack the codes at a time when technology was so basic. We can see the first steps towards the development of modern computers, and I, for one, want to visit Bletchley Park and see, with my own eyes, where everything started.

Read the full review here

Author Translator, Olga Nunez Miret

A very worthy look at code breaking activities.

The Armourer, January 2018

About Michael Paterson

Michael Paterson is a military historian, author, researcher and illustrator. He began his career on the military magazine 'Battlefields Review' as a writer and illustrator, before working in the printed books department at the Imperial War Museum, London. He has worked closely with many international archives as a researcher and has lectured frequently on military history and related subjects. He is also the author of Winston Churchill: His Military Life, 1895-1945.

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