Christopher's Reviews > Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945

Between Silk and Cyanide by Leo Marks
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's review
Jul 22, 2011

it was amazing

This is one of those rare books that really moved me - to tears, to laughter, and to some deep thoughts around cryptography and its role in one of the most epic conflicts in history - WWII.

The author, Leo Marks has a delightfully British style of prose that's witty, self effacing, and delightfully quirky.

While the book is semi-autobiographical, the story really revolves around the incredible game of chess waged between Mr. Marks and his opposite number in German intelligence "Herr Giskes".

Make no mistake - while this book is replete with the minutia that excites technical folk like myself (including several explanations as to how the codes work, but in accessible layman's terms), it is in large part a story about Mr. Marks's interactions with the SOE agents he brief and sent out into the field to fight the Nazi's in occupied territory.

In telling their (the agent's) stories, he pulls no punches. They often met with a terrible fate at the hand of the Germans, but ultimately, the story does not dwell on such atrocities and focuses on the larger war and Mr. Marks's role in it.

I am at a loss to convey how much I appreciate this book. To say I love it would be to trivialize the experience in a sense, so I won't do that.

If you're a WWII buff, a cryptography buff, or even if you aren't and enjoy a compelling story about a genius at work, this book is for you.
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