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The Secret Listeners: How the Y Service Intercepted the German Codes for Bletchley Park Hardcover – 4 Oct 2012


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The Secret Listeners: How the Y Service Intercepted the German Codes for Bletchley Park + The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; First Edition First Impression edition (4 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845137639
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845137632
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sinclair McKay is a features writer for The Telegraph and The Mail on Sunday. He is also the acclaimed author of the bestselling 'The Secret Life of Bletchley Park'.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A.K on 12 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I really enjoyed the author's previous one on Bletchley Park.

Like the last one, it is beautifully human and makes you realise all the extraordinary things people did for their country with such quiet dignity and without fuss or fanfare. The last book focussed on the lives of the people code-breaking at Bletchley park, but this one is about the men and women who were scattered around the world listening in on German communications and meticulously transcribing (and sometimes decoding) the messages to send back to Blecthley (often while also batting away incendiary bombs!).

It's only in recent years that the men and women of the 'Y-Service' (as they were called) have been allowed to talk about their time serving their nation, and it is amazing how humble they are and how woefully un-sung their praises have been. This is a riveting account of the lives of real people.

If you're after a meticulously researched history of the Y-Service then this won't be the book for you, but if like me you like to read the real stories of the people who lived the war and their first-hand stories of what they did, what it was like and how it changed their lives, then this is as good as any I've read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By AA1 on 6 Oct 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Much has already been written about the remarkable WW2 work at Bletchley but this volume covers the web of worldwide listeners who provided much of the source material for Bletchley. Often working in dangerous, uncomfortable conditions their dedication and concentration comes through in this very readable account. The topic has the potential to be a litany of personal histories but the author cleverly avoids this pitfall by humanising each chapter and allowing the reader to gain just a glimpse of what it must have been like. The fact that the enemy never got wind of the comprehensive allied code-breaking achievements must go down in history as one of the most remarkable achievements of human dedication, self discipline and self sacrifice.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard Axe on 14 Dec 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was not sure what to expect from this book, I guess the reason was that the Y service has had virtually no publicity and hence no general recognition of what went on. Clearly the work they did was extremely vital to the much publicised Bletchley park successes but has been left in the background. So it is right that the Y service activies have been given a much deserved exposure and the dedication shown by the operatives rightly praised. With no stand out "heros" the story tends to hop around a bit and gets a bit trivial at times but enjoyable and informative none the less. A timely reminder that we owe a lot to many unsung people.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Miss J L Walker on 24 Nov 2012
Format: Hardcover
It gives an excellent background to the work of 'Y' Group operators whos efforts have been ignored up to now.
i would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Enigma and the work of Bletchley Park.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. A. Roberts on 6 Jun 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Have only discovered in the last year that my late mother was at a Y station. She never mentioned it !
This book has given me an insight as to how she spent her war years. It really is an example of "well I didn't know that"'
time and time again. Oh why didn't she ever say anything ?
A well written and fascinating book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By roger.b on 18 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book details the lives of the convert operators that monitored German and Japanese communications, usually coded, and both decoded their transmissions and for the overseas operators, forwarded the information to Bletchley Park. Most operators came under the official secrets act and therefore have been unable to discuss their WW2 activities, even to this day.
The book tells of the training, where they operated from both across the UK and overseas, both on land and on small islands in the tropics. Many names are included and tells of the long nights monitoring the enemy transmissions, it goes into their social life and of the various bases that they were stationed at. The volume follows from pre WW2 right through until the later 1940s when they were gradually demobbed! It isn't a technical book as such, its more of a social account of the operators, their lives and how they managed to maintain their monitoring activities and provided immense help in bringing WW2 to an earlier closure.
An interesting book but not for those seeking technical details of equipment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Steedman on 2 Dec 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The wireless war is a little documented part of the second world war, however it it was the most important battle fought.
To date most of the accounts have concentrated on decripting enigma and the actions of Bletchley Park. However without the "Y" service there would have been no messages to proccess
This book is an account drawn on peoples direct experiance of working in the service.
The two reasons I have given this book only 4 stars are, firstly I think there is a lot more of this story still to come and secondly because it concentrates on personal experiances it does not actually give a full account of how the system worked or what it actually achieved.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M.T.George-Powell on 30 July 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having held an Amateur Radio licence since 1959 I find this a fascinating book. In the 60s I knew an elderly radio amateur who made vague "hints" at what he had done during WW2 and had been able to retain some of his radio equipment when most other amateurs had their equipment removed by the authorities "for the duration". Having visted Bletchey Park just 3 weeks ago I learned more and this compliments with my reading the book. The book gives a good background on what the VIs did and how their efforts assisted in the final outcome. I now have to assume that my elderly friend was indeed a VI.
A good read for those interested in the code breakers, intelligence services, and in radio in the 1940s.
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