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By Roobah Fox on 10-11-17
Just released, about 80% through this story
Side note that prompted me to write this review: How can anyone give this straight across 1's on a the same-day release for a book this long?
Erin Bennett as the narrator is amazingly good, an excellent reader with no quirks at all. The of this story just flows. I would gladly listen to any story she narrates. (I'm about 10 hours into this story and, while I'd keep listening to it as I have all day long, I'm going to savor the final chapters by waiting until tomorrow to finish it up.)
Follows the lives of a handful of young adult Code Girls, female crypto-analysts living in the DC/VA area (Arlington Farms boarding house for women) just before and during WWII. Story explains how they grew up, how they ended up working in the highest top secret vaults in DC. In story fashion, follows their recruitment, hiring, training, and what their daily lives are like. Friendships develop, 10's of 1000s of women in these government work roles 'invade' DC as government employees. Although many women filled many government office jobs in more traditional roles or as Congressional staffers and aides, this story is about the top secret Code Girls and their dedication to the War effort working as crypto-analysts.
Couldn't give this a straight across 5's because a little bit of disconnected story line trying to keep track of where the some of the crypto girls are working, who they are working for; some disconnect in tying together how all the cogs of different government and military agencies handled sometimes the same kind of work. But the main theme of the day to day life of the very important work these women did shines through and makes this a great story about a small, but important segment these women played regarding the ultimate outcome of US WWII History. A bit of disconnection in trying to piece in the older history of the women in computing and cryptography work roles prior to this era. Those who aren't into complex analysis and code-breaking might not find this part of the story fitting very well with the day to day perils of regular life of these girls when they are away from work. A bit of disconnection in the story explaining cryptography and how difficult it is -- I enjoyed it, but I'm kind of geeky like that. Adding some regular dates and chapter titles that distinguish the reference between the different girls' stories and the side-history and historical context that brought these women to their jobs would have made this story a cleaner, more straight-forward story. An included pdf extra attachment with the photos of the girls and captions helps piece together this somewhat disjointed story of the story of several of the girls, but primarily the telling of the stories of the friendship of Dot and Ruth (nicknamed 'Crow').
A great listen for anyone interested in women working in crypto-analysis; what it must have been like being very smart, college-educated, but still a bit naive jumping into the DC/VA big-city, top-secret world of being a US government code breaker (of Japanese, German, and every other country codes that the US wanted these girls to decode messages from).
A political, feminist story??? As political as the USA was from the mid-1930s-WWII era. Political with regard to the fact that ALL of these girls were government employees holding top secret clearances and had a strong desire to work for the government to help the war effort -- if you are offended by women who wanted to work this kind of job rather than settle down and stay at home to be mothers and raise kids and not work, this story will not be for you. If you would like a vision of what the DC area must have been like circa WWII era, with women at work, and women asserting their capabilities outside of a of traditional women work roles (teacher, secretary, nurse, babysitter, housemaid) this is an inspiring story told from the perspective of living in that time, in that location, from the perspective of the girls who lived this life. Enjoy!
107 of 116 people found this review helpful
By Jean on 10-30-17
I first heard about women code breakers in a historical fiction book by D. M. Sorlie. The heroine in the Sue Lee Series was recruited and trained to be a cryptographer by the Army. When I saw this book, I thought it might fill in my gap of knowledge on the subject.
During World War One many women were recruited as Code breakers but as soon as the war was over they were sent home and told the secrecy oath was still effective. They were forgotten over time by the historians. During World War Two more than 10,000 women worked on breaking and creating complex codes for the military and diplomatic forces.
Mundy stated that during her research she discovered that many of the code breakers were female school teachers. The requirements for a code breaker were the ability to detect patterns, and have a deep understanding of the inner workings of languages and mathematics. The Navy recruited from the elite Seven Sisters Colleges and the Army recruited from teacher colleges of the South and Midwest. There were also a large portion of women code breakers that were civilian workers. The author states a small group of African-American women worked in the cryptology section and specialized in money movements and banking. The demand for educated women was at its highest during the war.
The working conditions were difficult. The could not talk about their jobs; they lived in cramped quarters and had to put up with complex bureaucracy and sexual harassment. There accomplishments were most often dismissed by the men. The men stated that all the women were good for was to do the tedious work.
After seventy years the information about the women code breakers was declassified. The book is well written and the research was meticulous. The author searched the government documents and archives. She interviewed the women code breakers, many of them were in their 90s.
The book is fourteen hours long. Erin Bennett does a great job narrating the book. Bennett is a voice-over artist and award-winning audiobook narrator.
93 of 102 people found this review helpful