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The Ultra Secret: The Inside Story of Operation Ultra, Bletchley Park and Enigma Paperback – 7 Dec 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (7 Dec. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752837516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752837512
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 767,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Group Captain Frederick Winterbotham was born in 1897. He was educated at Oxford University and served in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War. Between 1930 and 1945 he was chief of the Air Department of the Secret Intelligence Service. Throughout the war he was based at Bletchley Park, and he was awarded the CBE in 1943. He died in 1990.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Hagrid's Umbrella VINE VOICE on 18 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book that focuses on the use of the intelligence they derived from breaking the German encoded signals (mostly from the famous Enigma machine) not how they broke it. Its a very interesting insight to how they distributed this information with the Special Liaison Units and the extreme care they took with their reactions to ensure the Germans didn't guess they were reading their signals. They always tried to provide an alternative means for obtaining the information.

Winterbotham is in an interesting position as he handle the overall operation of distributing this information to the field, strategic decision makers and he regularly briefed Churchill on the information gleaned. It covers some very important events but also has small interesting detail as well such as the fact he often had to stay up late on a Saturday night to brief Churchill after he'd watched his regular Saturday night film.

The book is broken down into the major campaigns of the war across 22 chapters and 190 pages of small print; no pictures. Covering battles in Europe, Africa and Asia. The one area not touched on too much is the Atlantic which was handled separatly by the Navy itself.

The writing style is easy to read and engaging. This doesn't claim to be a history of the war but cover how intelligence (Ultra) is use in the field and strategically, and the level to which it was used. However given how many areas it is used in it does feel pretty comprehensive and put some of the battles in perspective.

I read the 1974 published edition and it does gives a brief account of how the code is broken but from the other books I've read this is not correct. Try The Hut 6 Story for details of what went inside Bletchley Park.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr G on 3 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
The best account I have read. Straightforward and identifies the relationship with Churchill as key. Other accounts may be good for the techy but this is for everyone. All should appreciate the work, the importance and the sheer dedication that was required.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Terry D TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When, nearly 30 years after the end of World War II, Group Captain Frank Winterbotham finally got permission to publish the story of Bletchley Park and Ultra it is easy to see the incredulity, fascination and near disbelief caused by this 1974 book.

Frank Winterbotham was, from before the start of the war, responsible for the overall security of Ultra and for passing the information derived from breaking the German Enigma ciphers to a small and carefully selected group of military commanders including, of course, Winston Churchill himself.

That incredulity and near disbelief is entirely due to the fact that, from very early on, our military commanders were - in effect - looking over the shoulders of the German High Command (including Hitler himself) and reading the vast majority of the radio messages to and from their army, navy and air forces.

Early on in the war the shortage of resources - of both men and weapons - meant the information could not always be used to the full. Nevertheless 'The Ultra Secret' shows how, in the autumn of 1940 and without ever divulging the source, Air Chief Marshal Dowding made brilliant use of Ultra in repulsing the Luftwaffe's attempts to destroy the Royal Air Force and to bomb the UK into submission.

'The Ultra Secret' is a fascinating story that, nearly 40 years after it was written, is well worth reading. It is also interesting to read Ronald Llewellyn's subsequent (1978) book Ultra Goes to War which fills in many of the points that, at the time, Winterbotham was unable to explain fully. Two other books,
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Frank D on 31 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
After more than 40 years, this is still arguably the most significant book on the explanation of destruction of the German war machine in the West in World War II.

Word for word, no other book so succinctly explains the single most important reason behind for the Anglo-American triumph over Hitler's armies - and simultaneously dulls the reputation of many of the `great' Allied military machismo's.

No postwar gung-ho, breast-beating memoir can be properly adjudged without reference to the up to (according to some sources) 90 000 decoded Enigma signals per month in mid-1944 that were fed to all the top American and British commanders as Ultra intelligence and spliced into Intelligence summaries at the lower echelons as well.

Winterbotham, who was in charge of the distribution of the Ultra intelligence to the highest levels, was perfectly placed to assess the critical impact of this information.

As much as Ultra resolves one mystery, it opens two others: How was it possible that the German military, who were continuously checkmated at the strategic and tactical level in every major operation from Battle of Britain, North Africa, Italy and finally Normandy, never realised or figured that their signals were being intercepted...? Overweening complacency, arrogance, stupidity alone can surely only explain this partly?

And, given that the Germans were adept at cryptography (they had also designed and cracked the`voice scrambler' system used by the British and Americans at the beginning of the war) never appeared to have been able to read the higher codes of the Allies..... Surely the Allies could not have been using the cumbersome OTP system alone....? Postwar Allied accounts are strangely mum on this issue.....
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