Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ultra Secret” as Want to Read:
The Ultra Secret
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Ultra Secret

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  215 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Operation Ultra was designed to intercept & decode German signals sent using Enigma, the top-secret German cypher machine. F.W. Winterbotham, was the man responsible for the organization, distribution & security of Ultra. This is his personal account of the operation.
Hardcover, 199 pages
Published by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1974)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ultra Secret, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Tom Parys Since F.W. Winterbotham, the author himself, was a British officer "who during World War II supervised the distribution of Ultra intelligence. His…moreSince F.W. Winterbotham, the author himself, was a British officer "who during World War II supervised the distribution of Ultra intelligence. His book The Ultra Secret was the first popular account of Ultra to be published in Britain", then I think you can theoretically consider this whole book as a primary source, even though it was probably written after the fact.

EDIT: Checked it out, he did write it after the fact, and since he couldn't look at the still secret archives, he had to write it all from old memories, so be warned, there are inconsistencies.

But as an autobiography, it is considered a primary source.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 524)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mike Hankins
Jan 05, 2014 Mike Hankins rated it liked it
Shelves: military-history, ww2
This is an interesting book, although the title is a bit misleading. Those who are expecting a detailed account of the Bletchley Park scene, or details about how the codes worked and how they were broken -- will be disappointed. Those hoping for details on the moral implications and decisions made by having to allow certain attacks to happen, to avoid tipping off the Nazis that the Allies had broken their code -- will also be disappointed. What we have instead is a detailed operational account o ...more
Feb 07, 2010 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I originally bought this hoping to learn about the workings of Bletchly Park and the cryptographic activity that went on there. As it turns out this is not the book for that particular story, but nonetheless I'm very glad to have read this.
The Ultra Secret concentrates rather on the story of how the intelligence gained from the Enigma (and other) code-breaking was used in the Allied conduct of the second World War and how this information was securely distributed to those who needed it; all tol
Sep 12, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it
During WWII, Ultra was the code name for the Allied intelligence derived from breaking the German Enigma cipher. Published in 1974, this was one of the first public accounts of Ultra. There are almost no cryptographic details in this book; it is a personal recollection of a man's role in preserving the operational secrecy for the "secret" itself. It describes a network of special liaison units (SLU's) and training visits to the principal receivers of the intelligence: Churchill, Eisenhower and t ...more
Jun 11, 2013 suz rated it really liked it
Read the other reviews. As a person too young to understand the war while it was going on, the impressions I got after the war changed after reading The Ultra Secret. America's forces and our allies were greatly aided by having the machine code breaker called the 'Enigma' machine.
I was told about this book by a woman friend who worked on the project as one of the early women who enlisted at the time and who kept silent about it for the 30 years that all who worked on it were required to maintain
Alan Jeddeloh
Jan 11, 2015 Alan Jeddeloh rated it liked it
I first read this book back in 1975, when it first came out. After seeing The Imitation Game I dug it out from the basement bookshelves for another quick read.

Back in 1975, the book caused quite a stir, being the first report that the allies in WWII had actually broken the German codes and were frequently able to know exactly what the German plans and order of battle were. Elsewhere on the net one can find now-declassified reviews from inside NSA where apparently quite a few people got their kni
Apr 28, 2011 Patty rated it really liked it
I thought I would not like this because I am not really into military history at all- I only like the spy stuff! But this narrative by the man who organized and shepherded the Ultra messages (decodings of Nazi secret ciphers from the Enigma machine)was very interesting. That said, it is mostly a revelation about the role of Ultra in the battles of World War II, with a definite focus on the European theater.
Aug 07, 2011 Dustin rated it really liked it
First-person perspective of the war as a whole, with some developed perspective of the war as a whole and an under-lying timeline of German forces movements as decoded from Enigma. Also describes the complexities of the code-breaking process, but more in a "we're talking over drinks" rather than diving into advanced theories.
Aug 10, 2009 Matt added it
Shelves: military
I had no idea until about a year ago that we had access to many of Hitler's communications during the war. How cool was that?!?

This book was written by a guy who was directly involved in reviewing the communications they recovered from Ultra.
Sep 28, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it
very interesting--and so grateful to the many who made this information a vital piece in winning the war against Hitler and the Nazis. We need to not forget.
Jan 28, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
Harley Bennett
Apr 27, 2016 Harley Bennett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The English spy organization that became know as Ultra, had broken the code of Germany's Enigma machine. This book tells the story of how British Intelligence used this information to win WWII without ever allowing the Germans to know the code was broken. This is an interesting, fast paced account of the role Ultra played in defeating the Germans.
Mike Cook
Oct 28, 2015 Mike Cook rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in WWII and world history.
This book was written by the British officer who was in charge of disseminating the information gathered via the intercepted German and Japanese secret war messages. The reading of which was made possible by the the code breakers at Bletchley Circle solving the riddle of the Enigma Machine. The author doesn't tell about any battles in a blow-by-blow way. His focus is the detailed information gathered; who it did, or did not, get passed on to; how it effected the outcome of battles; and the extre ...more
Edwin Martin
Nov 23, 2014 Edwin Martin rated it liked it
It would be better read as a companion to another history of the war. Hard for me to remember all the background history where the author assumes his average history buff reader in the 1970s would remember this from reading if not personal remembrance of the war itself.
Dec 29, 2015 Alexander rated it really liked it
Fascinating first look into one of the best kept secrets from WWII. Published in the early 70s, this was a huge revelation to the general public and provided great insight into how the Allies were able to prosecute the war successfully.
Larry Loftis
Nov 10, 2015 Larry Loftis rated it liked it
A helpful book written by one of the best sources, but I found it a bit too technical. For pure science/technology, I'd give it five stars.
Sep 02, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very revealing story at the time, when it had just become public knowledge.
May 08, 2015 Terri added it
This was a great book to read after seeing THE IMITATION GAME about Turing and his group.
Steve Coscia
Dec 28, 2009 Steve Coscia rated it liked it
Detailed insight into how and why the allies really won WWII.
Aj marked it as to-read
May 01, 2016
Sofia marked it as to-read
Apr 25, 2016
Candace marked it as to-read
Apr 24, 2016
Kenneth Weiler
Kenneth Weiler rated it it was amazing
Apr 22, 2016
Chris Ross
Chris Ross marked it as to-read
Apr 20, 2016
Ken Kowalsky
Ken Kowalsky marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2016
Michella marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2016
Tehila marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2016
Mara marked it as to-read
Apr 16, 2016
Jess marked it as to-read
Apr 14, 2016
MrsCordial marked it as to-read
Apr 14, 2016
Philip marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Most Secret War
  • The Double-Cross System The Incredible True Story of How Nazi Spies Were Turned into Double Agents
  • The White Rabbit: The Secret Agent the Gestapo Could Not Crack
  • Partners in Command: George Marshall & Dwight Eisenhower in War & Peace
  • The German Generals Talk
  • Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940
  • A Short History of World War II
  • The Last Escape: The Untold Story of Allied Prisoners of War in Europe 1944-45
  • Patton
  • Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II
  • The Battle for History: Re-fighting World War II
  • Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park
  • Wahoo: The Patrols of America's Most Famous World War II Submarine
  • Seizing The Enigma: The Race To Break The German U-boat Codes, 1939-1943
  • The Bridge at Remagen: A Story of World War II
  • The First And The Last
  • Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945

Share This Book