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Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park Hardcover – 4 Dec 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Channel 4 Books; First Edition edition (4 Dec 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752221892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752221892
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 14.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Smith is the number-one bestselling author of Station X. He served in the British Army's Intelligence Corps and was an award-winning journalist for the BBC, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times. He is now a full-time novelist and intelligence historian.

Smith is the author of a number of books, including The Secrets of Station X; SIX: The Real James Bonds and Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews. He is the editor of The Secret Agent's Bedside Reader, a compilation of writing on spies by spies, which includes the work of John le Carre, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene and Kim Philby.

Smith's latest book is called The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories and recounts the lives of the women who worked at Britain's Second World War codebreaking centre. He is currently writing a detective novel set in Nazi Germany. He lives near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.


Product Description

Amazon Review

When "Captain Ridley's shooting party" arrived at Bletchley Park in 1939 no-one would have guessed that by 1945 the guests would number nearly 10,000 and that collectively they would have contributed decisively to the Allied war effort. Their role? To decode the Enigma cypher used by the Germans for high-level communications. Their work has already inspired Robert Harris's novel Enigma and now a Channel 4 series has been produced, which this book accompanies.

It is an astonishing story. A melting pot of Oxbridge dons (including Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer), maverick oddballs and more regular citizens worked night and day at Station X, as Bletchley Park was known, to derive intelligence information from German coded messages. Bear in mind that an Enigma machine had a possible 159 million million million different settings and the magnitude of the challenge becomes apparent. That they succeeded, despite military scepticism, supplying information that led to the sinking of the Bismarck, Montgomery's victory in North Africa and the D-Day landings, is testament to an indomitable spirit that wrenched British intelligence into the modern age, replacing false beards and dodgy accents with a technological precision that was to be fundamental as the Second World War segued into the Cold War.

Michael Smith constructs his absorbing narrative around the reminiscences of those who worked and played at Bletchley Park, and their stories add a very human colour to what was a highly cerebral activity, remote as it was from the blood and loss of the battlefield, but with such direct bearing. The code breakers of Station X did not win the war but they undoubtedly shortened it, and the potential lives saved on both sides stand as their greatest achievement. --David Vincent


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. Janeiro on 6 Sep 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought "station X" in 1999 and although the stories surrounding Bletchley Park are interesting, the book frustrated me - it gives a very poor explanation about the machine "ENIGMA", which ends up being the driving force of the book. I would recommend "The Code Book" instead - It really explains how ENIGMA works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By palace pier on 15 Jun 2010
Format: Hardcover
Just finished this book,and found it so interesting. From the history of code breaking to the winding up of Bletchley Park after WW2. The personalities of the people who worked there are brought out,maybe not fully,but give us an insight as to the atmosphere,the difficulties,the frustrations and the total secrecy of the place.
Just how the information was used,abused,and sometimes ignored,to the allies cost, was most fascinating, and tells us just how much more was going on in the background,of which the general public were totally unaware.
The devotion to duty was most impressive,especially as there were so many employed on this work. Would we find such devotion today in similar circumstances?
The description of how the codes were broken was absorbing and even amusing in parts as it told of the 'human factor' on the Germans part when sending messages. This was also not too technical so that you had no difficulty understanding the process.
I half expected this to be a tedious tale,but was pleasantly surprised.Definitely would recommend,especially for those just starting to get to grips with the 'Enigma' story,and its place in WW2 history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Feb 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book ties in well with the television series, and is able to go into greater detail about the major protagonists at Bletchley Park: in particular the programme's attitude of 'Alan Turing solved everything' is put firmly into perspective with the achievements of other codebreakers at Station X.
Inevitably, however, one is left wishing that the book were rather more heavyweight, as it does not offer enough extra over the series in the final analysis
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book fascinating from start to finish. The descriptions of the eccentric people who were best at solving crossword puzzles and cracking codes interested me. The book describes all fields of war in which the enigma code was used and even answers the question of whether Churchill allowed Coventry to be bombed to save disclosure of the fact that enigma had been decyphered. It also exposes the great advantage Montgomery was given in the fight against Rommel. I could almost relive the frustration the codebreakers must have felt when their decodes were not acted upon. Thankfully it doesn't go into too much detail of the code workings, the few it does give are difficult enough!
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By C.S on 18 July 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a basic primer on the story of Bletchley Park. It covers the problem that the codebreakers faced, with technical descriptions of Enigma and the process in breaking it. It examines the influence of Ultra intelligence (the information gained from breaking codes) on the outcome of the Second World War. It also provides a taste of what it was like to work at Bletchley Park by including plenty of quotes from veterans - people interested in some of the more famous personalities at BP will also enjoy these anecdotes.

So as a basic introduction to the topic of Bletchley Park this book is a very good place to start. However, for the more seasoned reader of literature on this fascinating organisation Station X lacks depth. It also lacks footnotes which is annoying.

However, for a person new to the subject this this book ticks all the boxes.
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By Pataread on 15 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
An excellent book that provides a detailled and interesting appraisal of the work conducted at Bletchley Park and profiles of many of those people involved.I find it difficult to understand the vale of silence that existed until recently and probably did not allow the true recognition of what was achieved there to be to be fully appreciated
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