Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Five top books on ciphers & codebreakers during World War II & after

Sinclair McKay is a features writer for The Telegraph and The Mail on Sunday. He is also the acclaimed author of the bestselling The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of books on ciphers and codebreakers during World War II and after, including:
Alan Turing: The Enigma
by Andrew Hodges (1983)

On the face of it, a richly detailed 500-page biography of a mathematical genius and analysis of his ideas, might seem a daunting proposition. But fellow mathematician and author Hodges has acutely clear and often extremely moving insight into the humanity behind the leaping genius that helped to crack the Germans' Enigma codes during World War II and bring about the dawn of the computer age. Rather than receiving proper recognition after the war, Turing—along with everyone else who had worked at the British codebreaking center Bletchley Park—was obliged to keep his Enigma successes utterly secret. Always remarkably open about his sexual orientation, Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for his relationship with a young man; the sentence involved a form of chemical castration, and he committed suicide in 1954. But here this melancholy story is transfigured into something else: an exploration of the relationship between machines and the soul and a full-throated celebration of Turing's brilliance, unselfconscious quirkiness and bravery in a hostile age.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see: Five best books about British military deception.

--Marshal Zeringue