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Station X: The Code Breakers of Bletchley Park

(Pan Grand Strategy Series)

by
3.96  ·  Rating details ·  781 ratings  ·  93 reviews
STATION X tells the true story, as it has never been told before, of the amazing achievements of the codebreakers working at Bletchley Park in the Second World War.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published 2007 by Pan Publishing (first published 1998)
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May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Do-ers
I first visited Bletchley Park (BP) before significant funding was secured to restore buildings and exhibit extensive displays. Then there was an extraordinarily wonderful atmosphere. The weeds were growing, just as if the press of wartime codebreakers and ancillary staff had vacated the site only a year before. Evidence of the removal of equipment could be seen; whilst more forlornly awaited in situ and in odd corners for repair and restoration. I saw only a handful of other visitors that day, ...more
Shruti Badole
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of the incredible things that went on in Bletchley Park in the Second World War. I visited Bletchley Park around one and half months ago and was really impressed with it; that is what compelled me to pick this book!

If you want to teach students about BP, it's not going to be one chapter in their history curriculum; it's going to be one separate subject in itself. There was SO MUCH going on and I really admire Michael Smith for writing it all down. I'll be honest: this is N
...more
Charlie
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
I both liked and was annoyed by this book. I was fascinated that there were so many different enigma machines and the different ways that they were broken. Or not, periodically. And the book does an excellent job of showing the direct consequences of the work of Bletchley Park on the war. But there was a lot more of the "he did this"/"she did this" than there was about the actual cyphers. There were some good explanations in places, but too few. Overall, this was a 3 1/2 star read. I'm glad I re ...more
Dane Cobain
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My mum gave me this book because we’re both interested in Bletchley Park and the World War II codebreakers. In fact, we’re planning on paying a visit it at some point in the near future, which is why I prioritised this book and got to it sooner rather than later. It was a good decision.

Sure, it took me a little while to work my way through it, but that tends to happen with any non-fiction book, and especially when they’re as intense or as in-depth as this one. The good news is that it was also f
...more
Steve
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I knew a little about what had gone on at Bletchley Park before reading this book, but this a lovely look at some of the more unsung heroes of the effort, sometimes even in their own words, which was great to read. Their efforts can not be understated, and it was fascinating, not only from a breaking encryption standpoint as well as talking about how the gathered intelligence was used. Heartily recommended to anyone who is interested in the period or the history.
Gerry
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who would have realised that when 'Captain Ridley's shooting party' arrived at Bletchley Park in August 1939 that a legend was about to be created. But it was to be a secret legend because no-one was to know what was going on at the establishment as those that worked there were not even allowed to tell their families what they were doing.

Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair had bought Bletchley Park in the spring of 1938 as an evacuation site for both MI6 and the Government Code and Cypher School. And they
...more
Eleanor
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2018-books
The work done at Bletchley Park during the Second World War was unknown to most people for a long time after the war ended, and ever since I first heard of it, I have been fascinated by it.

The breaking of the many different Enigma codes was a quite extraordinary feat by the many brilliant people who worked at Station X (as in the number 10) as it was called. These days the best known of them is Alan Turing, but there were a handful of other equally brilliant codebreakers working there, and a gre
...more
Vanessa-Ann Dowsett
When this first began, I thought that I was going to struggle as there was much technical information that I didn't understand. I am really glad I persevered as I really became interested especially when many of those who worked the Enigma machine were quoted. Familiar names worked there such as Olivia Newton John's father and Charles Babbage the father of the modern computer. These ladies and gents who worked at Bletchley cracked the most complex codes under the most secret conditions, even una ...more
Thom
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Good technical information - probably more than has been released anywhere - if a little dry. Quite a few direct quotes from people who were there during the war, which sets the scene but also muddles the story. The majority of the book is early war; the last few years of the war go by in a rush.

Events in this book don't follow a linear timeline either. Sometimes that is okay - focusing on one technical achievement and results - but often it is just confusing. The book does have more about doubl
...more
John Gribbin
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read every book I can find about the codebreaking activities at Bletchley Park, and this is one of the best. It is ideal for anyone who already knows about the science and technology involved, including the world's first electronic programmable computer, Colossus, because the emphasis here is on the people involved and, to some extent, their backstories. Station X is an accessible and easy read, which I imagine would be almost as entertaining if it was the first book you had come across a ...more
Ted Brayton
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read a LOT about World War II, and probably watched twice as much in movies and documentaries, but never learned more about the war from a single source than I did in this book. Picked up this book on a visit to Bletchley in 2012. Talk about being happy to be able to finally put a face together with a name! Not for everyone, but if you have read more than three books about the war, then you should read this one next.
Elizabeth
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, own, wwii
This book, although not long, took a long time to read due to the complicated technical details. I like that sort of thing and found myself going back and re-reading bits and pieces to make sure I understood everything they were doing. The people working at Station X were geniuses, that's for sure!!
I really enjoyed this book, but it won't be for the average history buff, due to the complicated technical details.
...more
Colin Gray
A well presented true story captured here, of what went on at Bletchley park during second world war.Lots of information and facts which gives a real insight into the effort the staff played in breaking the codes.
Carolyn
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This was a riveting read about codebreaking at Bletchley Park in the second world war. British Intelligence, known as GC&CS before the war and GCHQ after the war, could crack almost any code and did. Peaking at an employment level of 10,000 in early 1945, Bletchley Park codebreakers decoded, read, and analyzed the most vital and secret transmissions by the Germans. Experts say that their work shortened the war by one to three years.

The Official Secrets Act that all Bletchley Park staff had to si
...more
Chris
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Without saying too much, this book was sometimes a fairly heavy read, but then, the subject is a complicated on, and therefore on occasion, I struggled to understand how certain things worked. It could maybe have been a good idea to include some more examples of how the cyphers worked and how the Germans en-cyphered their messages and as to how they were broken.

However, what a story it was. Breaking the Enigma, first by hand, then by the electronic Bombes then finally with the birth of the first
...more
Kerry Howard
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first non-fiction book about Bletchley Park that I read and was the start of my fascination with the Government Code and Cipher School codebreaking operation at Bletchley Park during World War 2. The book accompanied the BBC programme of the same name.

Michael Smith is an excellent author and captured interviews with codebreakers and other BP veterans that are unfortunately no longer with us. It is therefore an important account of first hand interviews that are now preserved for fut
...more
Sue
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I found it absolutely fascinating to think that all the people who worked there kept it a secret for so long. It also made me realise how lucky I am that they did everything they did under such circumstances. The first hand accounts were wonderful and (even though I would never want to go through six years of war and uncertainty) almost made me want to walk through the corridors and experience it all with them. If you like non-fiction war tales, but without the fighti ...more
Christine
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short history of the Codebreakers, with the focus on more than Turning. In other words, if you saw the recent movie, you should read this. Of particular note is the fact that Smith's source include many women. ...more
George Siehl
A pleasant little book offering the highlights of the code-breaking exploits of the United Kingdom during World War II. Provides many previously unpublished photos from the wartime era, along with brief quotes from some of the many people who worked on this top-secret project.
John Gillies
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent study of the evolution of the codebreaking that was carried out at Bletchley Park during the war. The author brings the characters to life and provides just enough technical detail to explain the background without overwhelming the reader. A story of outstanding effort.
Val Asker
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Vernon
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I visited Bletchley Park when some details were still coming to light, the huts were dilapidated but for a few that had been refurbed by which I mean they didn't leak and there was a school table inside with an exhibit. The computer museum was a delightful room of shelves stacked with old computing equipment, cords wrapped round them and no descriptors. It in its self was wonderfully 'Heath Robinson'. It is I fear long overdue a revisit as money has since been pumped in and fame has risen with T ...more
Graham Tapper
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-to-read
I have always been fascinated by the story of Bletchley Park and the contribution that it made to the winning of WWII. I have visited the place and seen the locations and artifacts of those who worked there. I have seen the famous Bombes, used to help crack Enigma. But, the absolute highlight of my visit was to see Colossus, in action.

Colossus is only now recognised as the real starting point of all modern computers. It was the first programmable, stored program computer ever invented. It was be
...more
Bev
I'm going to be honest and tell you upfront that the primary reason I read this book was that the title had an "X" in it and I needed that badly for one of my challenges. There just aren't that many titles available from my library that have an X as a word or at the beginning of a word and that sound interesting to me. X-Men and X-Factor graphic novels just don't do that much for me. So, when a search of the library catalog produced this non-fiction account of the code breakers at Bletchley Park ...more
Gareth
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2, history
I was bought this book as a Christmas present and initially thought that it was one of those badly written spy stories because of the "station x" part however I was gladly wrong! The station x is relevant as it was the tenth station denoted with Roman numerals!

This book is fantastic, starting from the birth of the world war one code breakers in Room 40 up to the present GCHQ element with Bletchley and most prominent, huts 6 and 8 in between. Michael Smith is a very talented historian who is obvi
...more
Brian Jones
Fascinating subject, terrible book.

It doesn't do a good job describing the technical parts of the codebreaking. I found myself going to Wikipedia over and over again to understand the technical pieces the author just alludes to.

But that's okay, right? Maybe it's about the people, and how their personalities and priorities and ideas drove the program forward? But it's bad at that, too. We don't get any depth of personality on the main characters. Instead there is a constant stream of minor charac
...more
Syed Ali Hussain Bukhari
Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park by Michael Smith

It is a unique book of its kind that describes how the British & their Allies defeated Hitler's Nazi Germany as well as explaining the role of codebreakers in it. It tells the history of codebreaking and other processes involved like interception of enemy messages, finding Enigma keys, Lorenz machine's keys etc, decoding the messages, the analysis of decoded messages, sorting out of information to send to the deparment concerned and m
...more
Roger Taylor
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent and informative study of an amazing group of people assembled at Bletchley Park during the Second World War to break the various Enigma Codes created by the Germans to communicate with their army, navy and air forces involved in the conflict. While somewhat technical at times, it does explain clearly the incredibly difficult tasks undertaken at Bletchley and their successes which helped the Allies to win the war. A prime example is the cracking of the German naval codes which allowe ...more
Brian Page
Author Michael Smith in his Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park does a splendid job of presenting an overview of the technical work and social climate of the famed crypto site. He seems a master of succinctly explaining technical topics without over-simplifying or going into mind-numbing detail. Coming in at just over 200 pages, his Station X doesn’t have the depth of detail as may be found, for example, in Colossus: Bletchley Park's Greatest Secret, by Paul Gannon, or the more focuse ...more
Laura (itslauracrow)
This was a really interesting account of Bletchley Park from its beginnings in the 1930s right up to the end of the war. It gave a really good overview of the work carried out in each hut, the different jobs and the impact these had on the war effort. It also delved into the social side of BP and featured many personal accounts from people that had actually worked there.
I listened to the audiobook and found I had to keep skipping it back for some of the more technical explanations about the mac
...more
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There is more than one Michael Smith in the database.

Michael Smith is a British author and screenwriter who specializes in spies and espionage.

Source: Wikipedia.
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