The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies
Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II.
In 1916, at the height of W...more
Audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell 13h 37m 2s
This was a FANTASTIC read or rather listen that I selected on a whim. Elizabeth and her husband, William sure do define relationship goals. A large part of the book talks about the cou ...more
Espionage usually confuses me. This isn’t the case here. The author explains what is necessary to know clearly and methodically and never in a dry or pedantic manner. Historical events are added but not excessively. The clarity of this book is what stands out for me. The clarity allows a reader to follow the events without being confused and to appreciate the importance ...more
Elizabeth Smith was a college educated teacher who was recruited by George Fabyan to work ...more
It’s not quite true that history is written by the winners. It’s written by the best publicists on the winning team.
History is also often “his story.” As many have observed, women have to be extraordinary in order to be respected in the workplace, never mind getting included in the subsequent historical accounts. Elizebeth Smith Friedman (“ESF”) was truly exceptional but her story was hidden because she had been sworn to maintain secrecy until her death.
William was scooped up by the government and led a team to break enemy codes through both World Wars. He eventually broke the Japa ...more
There are no words to sum up the feats of code-breaking that this woman—this PERSON—achieved. She broke codes during WWI, using her pen and paper to make other counties ...more
This is the story of a great woman and a great couple. I would like to see it as a movie one day or at least a PBS documentary
I truly enjoyed this book up in many ways it was more in depth than amateur Codebreakers would understand.
Yet, the author took the time to give detail so that those who were more professional in the area would be comfortable as well. Also he has a way of making the book flow nicely in the midst of detail
The Woman Who Smashed Codes will be compared with Hidden Figures, and that's fair, to a point. Both books have at their core a story of remarkable scientific/mathematic achievement, overlooked because of gender, largely forgotten (until now) as others took credit. But it is so much more, so rich in its account of not only an extraordinary woman, but the time in which she lived, two World Wars and her central role ...more
Once upon a time in the West, a wealthy and charismatic man whisked a young woman off to a luxurious life on his expansive estate.
And even though that sentence is true, this is not that kind of story. Although it is a love story. And a war story. And a spy story.
The man was George Fabyan, a wealthy businessman who had created a kind of scientific and technical utopia on his estate at Riverbank, outside of Geneva Illinois. The town of Geneva still exists, an ...more
Though I do have a quibble with the blurb GR is using for this book, which describes Elizebeth Smith as a 'brilliant Shakespeare expert'. Ermmmm, not quite. Brilliant? Probably. Shakespeare expert? No. Rather, she was a well educated young woman whose casual interest in Shakespeare led her to be in the right place at the right time to catch the interest of eccentric millionaire George Fabyan. He happened to need an assi ...more
This book documents two important accounts:
1. An abridged history of USA’s cryptology and cryptanalysis during the times of WWI, prohibition and WW2, and
2. It tells of the legacy of its two most eminent cryptographers William Friedman and Elizebeth Smith Friedman.
The focus of the book is on the accomplishments of Elizebeth Smith Friedman. While William Friedman was recognized and commemorated for his work, Elizebeth was not. Why not, you ask? Because of the usual blatant sexism and J ...more
THE WOMAN WHO SMASHED CODES: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone is a historical fiction novel which brings to light the major contributions of the amazing female half of a married couple who both invented many aspects of the modern science of cryptology.
Elizebeth Smith wanted a job in literature. She is hired by an eccentric millionaire who brings the best minds of ...more
Elizebeth (with three ‘e’s) Smith became one of the most renowned codebreakers in history by a quirk of serendipitous fate. As a young woman brought up in a Quaker household, she wished to extend her horizons and at the age of 23 she went to Chicago in search of work. The quest was unsuccessful – but on the last day of her trip, on a whim, Elizebeth decided to visit the Newberry Library where a rare copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio was on display. The librarian noted the visitor’ ...more
It's a dense read, but today, as we grapple with what it means to be human and to entrust our privacy to machines, and in an era of intense debate about the role of women in technology, it's an important read th ...more
Elizebeth actually was able to read the messages from at least thre ...more
However, I had a few issues that kept me from enjoying it and they are all linked tightly together. This felt a little long. Some of this felt tedious....so many tangents and tiny little details. It also felt like a regurgitation of facts. I couldn't shake the wikipedia vibe. I like to feel eager about the peek in ...more
Five stars for an unsung hero!
Elizebeth Smith had a Quacker upbringing, a degree in English Literature and a love (and extensive knowledge) of Shakespeare but few possiblities to have a job she could thrive in. When looking for a job in a library, she is put in touch with George Fabyan, an eccentric and wealthy man with a estate where he funded various studies of science. She is ...more
History is often stranger--and more wonderful--than fiction. This tale supports that thesis. Elizebeth Friedman and her husband William invented modern cryptography and in the process helped win two world wars and put many criminals in jail. That they got little credit is par for the course.
“The whole deciphering business is based on what we call the mechanics of language. There are certain fix ...more
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