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Publisher's Summary

Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II.
In 1912, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the US government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the Adam and Eve of the NSA, Elizebeth's story, incredibly, has never been told.
In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation's history for 40 years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizabeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler's Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma - and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.
Fagone unveils America's code-breaking history through the prism of Smith's life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson's best sellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is riveting popular history at its finest.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Jason Fagone (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Sara on 11-18-17

Personal Bio VS World History

This book is a perfect example of how much of history is made up of people toiling away in back offices without fanfare or recognition. In fact, it seems that endless days of tireless hard work and perseverance with pencil and paper really played a major role in winning the war.

Elizebeth's story is a fascinating global look at WWII. Engaging and offering an overview of world events from a personal perspective. The companion PDF presents excellent additional insights into the methods of code breaking. Lots of background detail about both Enigma and Purple--the Japanese code machine is offered.

A must for both history lovers and anyone who enjoys a good biography.

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38 of 41 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By sarah brown on 10-25-17

An important biography, perfectly told

A fascinating story impeccably researched. Fagone has done American history a real service with his biography of Elizabeth and the birth of the NSA.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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