Enigma: The Battle For The Code
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Enigma: The Battle For The Code

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  328 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Breaking the German Enigma codes was not only about brilliant mathematicians and professors at Bletchley Park. There is another aspect of the story which it is only now possible to tell. It takes in the exploits of spies, naval officers and ordinary British seamen who risked, and in some cases lost their lives snatching the vital Enigma codebooks from under the noses of Na...more
Hardcover, 403 pages
Published 2000 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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(showing 1-30 of 781)
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Jason
Gripping.
High seas derring-do.
Counter-espionage.
North Atlantic U-boat wolfpacks.
bombes, cillis, Banburisms, cribs, bigram tables, rodding, Verfahrenkenngruppe.
Top Secret.
Dolphin and Shark Nets.
Depth charges.
Machine-gun the conning towers.
Manly.
Forced boarding parties.
Cryptology geniuses.
Disappearing codebook ink.
Winston Churchill.
The Enigma Machine.
Gripping.

This is how you write non-fiction. Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, Enigma: The Battle for the Code

During WWII my grandfather was playing professiona...more
Michael
In World War 2 the Germans used a coding machine called Enigma to encrypt their messages in order that the Allies would not be able to read them. This coding technique had been introduced to the German armed forces in 1931 and from that time both Poland and France had agents endeavouring to break the code. This book works chronologically through the main characters who were involved with a variety of attempts, schemes, ideas, spying and espionage techniques from that time until the end of World...more
Kristi Thielen
Engrossing, detailed account of the effort to crack the code that the German military used during WW2. The technological work it took is centerstage, but the human cost in achieving and maintaining the work is also revealed.

"Maintaining" is a key word here: like many who have heard of the sucess at cracking Enigma, I assumed there was only one such code and that the code - once cracked - remained so. In fact there were several such codes. And because the Germans altered them, there were "blacko...more
Relstuart
Before WWII started the German military build several cipher computing devices. These devices had wheels within them with letters and number and you could type in your plain text and the machine would code your text for you and then that could be sent to other members of the military with the machines and as long as they matched the settings of the sending machine they could read out the real message.

Unbeknownst to the Germans, Polish agents had gotten ahold of one of these machines (code named...more
Jim Leckband
"Loose Lips Sink Ships" always seemed a bit farfetched to me. Not after I read this book.

The tale of the cipher breaking of the German military master code machine "Enigma" is incredible. Sebag-Montefiore (hereafter SM) limits the tale to only the info that is needed to forward the story of how Enigma was broken and stayed broken. A lesser book would have had histories of codes and ciphers, a chapter on previous cipher machines, a chapter on the creation of the Enigma and so on. SM starts with t...more
Mert Bartels
Identifies the parties involved by the Allies in and before WWII who for years endeavored to break the Nazis methodology behind the cipher machine named Enigma. W. Churchill claimed the success of cracking the German code was the secret weapon that won the war. Interestingly, there were several countries and a few secret labs in Britain that used brilliant mathematicians to attempt breaking the code used by the German war machine. Object of breaking the code was to identify German ships on seas...more
Tim
Bought at Bletchley Park on visit there in April 2012 and read over the next few weeks.
This is not the current cover (in UK anyway). Reissued 2011 as 70th anniversary edition with some extra appendices which (along with a new introduction) update the information in the light of documents declassified in recent years. The emphasis in this book is solely on the Enigma material and does not discuss the important work Bletchley did on the "geheimschreiber" teleprinter code ("Fish") and the Colossus...more
Jeff Latten
This book has something for everyone with an interest in the history and significance of the Enigma machine. For the technophiles, there's a very detailed and somewhat complicated explanation of the various coding methods, keywords, code wheels, machine settings and so forth. Some of the leaps of logic are a bit of a stretch but the essence of how difficult this cryptography was shines through. Realizing that all this took place prior to the existence of computers gives one a deep appreciation o...more
Kay
A terrific book! More than the technical story of cracking the Enigma code, Sebag-Montefiore tells the absorbing story of how the seizure of all-important codebooks from captured U-boats and ships, combined with information supplied by double agents, gave the analysts at Bletchley Park the material they desperately needed to break the code. Unlike other accounts, this one places the Royal Navy's heroic efforts at the center of the tale. It also gives credit to the Polish cryptographers who pione...more
Sarah
This book was very interesting and informative. At times, it did get a little too technical for me to understand. That is when I handed the book to my hubby(who is a computer engineer) to read and explain in laymens terms.

I liked reading the personal stories more than the technical aspect of this book. I can connect better to human events stories.

I feel a bit cheated thought. For years I read and learned how the BRITISH broke the code when in fact it was the Polish code breakers. I almost feel...more
Varda
Aug 21, 2013 Varda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII history buffs
The story of the Enigma Machine is the story of WWII. Without so many people risking and giving their lives to obtain its secrets, the Allies would never have won the war. That being said, I liked the book in spite of the fact that the technical details were sometimes way beyond my understanding. The fact that his is the consummate book on the subject and includes recently released classified information makes this the must read on the subject. On too many pages, I just found myself scanning bec...more
Yordanka
An interesting and detailed account of the ‘battle’ of the Allies to decrypt the Nazi's secret radio communications during World War II. ( The first acquisition of Enigma manuals by the French Secret Service, the Polish pioneering work, the ingenious British codebreaking machines and techniques, the ‘extravagant’ (in a good way) American approach, the sea battles to capture Enigma codebooks, the role the Enigma intelligence played in the war... A very thorough story.)

What I did not like... I wis...more
Joe
Churchill said cracking German’s complex ciphering machines was the reason the Allies won WWI. Here’s the gloves-off story including explanations of the complex ciphering, narratives of audacious U-boat “snares,” and the mostly crazy personalities who broke Hitler’s most-secret weapon. Rating: 3 out 5 ciphers.
Mark
I wasn't very familiar with the Enigma history, so I learned a good deal and found the overall story fascinating. Something about the book's structure felt a little disjointed with the narrative jumping forward and back in time. I also wish I could have finished with a better understanding of how the Engima machines worked, but I recognize that it is a complex mechanism INTENDED to be difficult to understand. The author spent a good deal of text trying to explain it, but I personally would have...more
David Manuel
I quite enjoyed this book. Although it is replete with technical aspects of breaking the Enigma code, what I found more interesting were the detailed stories about so many of the people involved, from the Poles who originally cracked Enigma to the U-boat captains who kept complaining that the Allies seemed to know exactly where to find them. Of course, the icing on the cake are the quotes from German Naval Communications Command explaining that "the German Navy has the finest enciphered radio co...more
Bill
Exhaustive history of the breaking of the German code - Enigma during WWII. If you believe the movies, once the code was broken, voila! This book dispels that myth by detailing how it was, in essence, a never-ending back and forth 'code duels' between the Allies and the Germans. Understanding the actual code-breaking was a little tedious and mind-numbing, but understanding the human element of personalities and the simple scale of this effort is the meat of this book.
Candace
Very interesting. The book is a detailed timeline of the events of the Enigma pre-war and post-war. I didn't realize how complicated the machine was and how long they worked to break it. I did skip a few chapters, it goes into real detail on how the Enigma works. I'll be honest, I still don't really understand how the Enigma works. I enjoyed the differnet stories of how they captured the machines. It's a good book if you like real detailed history books.
Nathan
This was a fascinating book, telling how the secrets of the German Enigma machine were captured by spies and servicemen, and then exploited to help win the war. The appendices were particularly interesting, with all their detail about the methods used by British and Polish cryptographers to break the code. The author tells story after story. I loved it.
Artnoose Noose
I picked this up at a library book sale for 50 cents after having read the Neal Stephenson novel Cryptonomicon which among other things features the folks at Bletchley Park who are trying to break the Enigma codes used by the Germans in WWII.

I'd say it's a good survey history of the struggle of the Allied forces to crack the Enigma code.
Nancy
It's interesting, provides some perspective on the early years of WWII, and delves into great detail about the code breaking effort of England. I find it's better to read this when I'm fully awake. Not an exciting book to read, but very informative.
Ruth
good comprehensive history of the code breaking efforts in the fight against the U-boats. I am totally in awe of the genius required to understand and develop all the tools and efforts required in this endeavor.
Chris
A long and very detail oriented history of the British efforts to break the naval enigma. A bit too detail oriented for my tastes. Appendices about the machines used to break the codes were a solid addition, though.
Kit
I really enjoyed this...filled in a lot of holes for me. The details are incredible, and if you are looking for insight into the strategic importance of the code-breaking efforts - this is a great start.
Mark
I've read at least one book on this topic before. This one is quite detailed on the mechanics of the machine and how the codes work.
David Robertus
Great amd new material pn the subject but so poorly edited and with so many unnecesary tangents I found it very fragmented and tedious.
Pieter Stok


Comprehensive and informative. For a non-science/maths person it was a bit too detailed at times. Loved the history.
Jeffrey Carlson
A terrible book on an utterly fascinating topic!!!!!!! Very disappointed, took some work to get through this one.
Alan
Engineering, ingenuity, espionage, human falibility, the brilliance often found outside the normal
Sshelline
Detailed and well-documented, but could have used a little more story-telling art.
Anita
Too detailed / long for me.
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