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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.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
This book contains a fascinating episode in history. The author was extremely lucky to have been able to talk to some of these ladies. In Britain there was a code of secrecy about the women and men working in code breaking. My Mother joined the Army due to her interest in crossword puzzles and single status to work in intelligence, but she kept her work secret as was required at that time. Sadly through death and dementia we have lost the stories of many of the women employed in code breaking from multiple countries. This book is a great step forward in telling the story of the women who undertook code breaking in the USA.
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3 of 3 people found this review helpful