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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting & readable version of the enigma story
Hugh Sebag-Montefiore (HSM) gives a well written & well researched history of the Enigma. HSM has interviewed a significant number of the main players in the story which leads to a much fuller background to the story which no doubt had very significant impact on WW II. The book was written after a large amount of historic data was released from the Public Records...
Published on 19 April 2001

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive research, poor writing.
As bibliography in the back of this book indicates, it's an exhaustively researched piece of work, seemingly leaving no stone unturned in the authors quest to tell the whole story of the cracking of the enigma code from its inception in the early 30's right through to the end of WW2. It may be that this exhaustiveness is what leads to the books' greatest weakness - the...
Published on 7 Feb 2003 by Davywavy2


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting & readable version of the enigma story, 19 April 2001
By A Customer
Hugh Sebag-Montefiore (HSM) gives a well written & well researched history of the Enigma. HSM has interviewed a significant number of the main players in the story which leads to a much fuller background to the story which no doubt had very significant impact on WW II. The book was written after a large amount of historic data was released from the Public Records Office which accounts for when the book was published, this too adds to quality of read. I also liked the way in which HSM used appendices to include some of the more technical details of the cipher breaking techniques, this allowed the story to remain readable without losing the more complex information to those who will be interested in understanding it.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive research, poor writing., 7 Feb 2003
By 
Davywavy2 - See all my reviews
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As bibliography in the back of this book indicates, it's an exhaustively researched piece of work, seemingly leaving no stone unturned in the authors quest to tell the whole story of the cracking of the enigma code from its inception in the early 30's right through to the end of WW2. It may be that this exhaustiveness is what leads to the books' greatest weakness - the leaden, lumpen prose in which it is presented.
The breaking of Enigma was a major acheievement by British intelligence and undountedly lead to the war being shortened, possibly by years; it is a tale of individual courage and of genius, and of the constant race against time to break the messages of the day in the hope of protecting british shipping in the Atlantic.
Sadly, none of this excitment or even interest is conveyed in the writing, and whenever a player in this grand tale seems about to develop a life of their own the authorial hand moves quickly to push them back into the grey, uninvolving prose.
This is a shame; it's a great story, worthy of being often told - but this book - whilst crammed with facts - does not tell a story, more lists dates and names and forces the reader to try and find their invlovement or interest where they may.
Five stars for research and information, one star for writing. A tremendous shame.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book - the hard work behind the cracking of the code, 25 Mar 2002
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Alan Eager (Charleston, SC USA) - See all my reviews
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This book describes the sheer hard work that went on with breaking the Enigma code - not just from the code breakers at Bletchley park but the guys who risked their lives in recovering secrets from the Germans to boarding booby trapped U-boats. It describes many of the successes and failures particularly at sea with the interception of the U-boat supply ships to the sinking of the Scharnhorst and the ultimate deceptions before D-day.
Read this an find out there was much, much more to Enigma than Alan Turing (although he was pretty amazing too!).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent coverage of the German Naval Enigma saga., 12 Aug 2014
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The breaking of the German Enigma coding system is now rightly acknowledged to have been the most vital single element leading to Allied victory during the Second World War. Since the 1970s when the Ultra Secret was first made public, a great deal has been written on Enigma; but much of what has been written or shown on TV in the UK, has lead to the widespread impression that the breaking of Enigma was solely down to a few brilliant mathematicians at Bletchley Park and Alan Turing in particular. As HSM shows, the breaking of the code was in fact a multi-national effort with the crucial role of the Polish cryptanalysts during the 1930s being well covered here. This book deals mainly with German Naval Enigma, and describes the efforts made to break into that most vital code and then to keep up with all the changes to the Enigma machine, code books, and systems, which the Germans made throughout the war. The role of the Royal Navy, and later the Royal Canadian Navy, and US Navy in capturing up to date Enigma machines, code books and documents during raids on German land installations and weather ships; or by courageously boarding crippled and sinking U-Boats is well detailed. Without these 'pinches' the cryptanalysts were often left searching in the dark.
HSM also shows that the Germans themselves often contributed to their own undoing through sloppy procedures both by those designing the system and by those operating it. Their worst error however was that they had convinced themselves that the Enigma system was infallible; so that despite often damning evidence to the contrary, Doenitz was always told that Enigma was secure.
With regard to the layout of the book, I have read the whole of the 'story' first and will go into the operational detail appendices as required. Other reviewers complained about the lack of any accounts of day to day life at Bletchley Park or in-depth biographical details of the main characters in the history. I believe that at 550 pages or thereabouts this volume is long enough. Sinclair McKays 'Secret life of Bletchley Park' gives a reasonable account of day to day working life at BP. As well as this, despite coming across as something of a soap-opera/feminist tract, his 'The Secret Listeners' tells the story of the 'Y' Services, the providers of the raw intelligence intercept, without which there would have been nothing for the code breakers to do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Historical Details, 27 May 2013
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Bookaholic "prussblue" (St. Louis area, MO USA) - See all my reviews
The Folio Edition is the 2001 update of the 2000 ed. of Enigma: Battle for the Code with "minor emendations" -- I placed this review elsewhere and share it here, "I enjoyed The Folio Society ed. (2005) of this book for its historical content. I, however, would like to be able to contact the author (doesn't seem to be easy to do -- probably my fault) as on page 322, para 3, last line, it is stated that the "parents" of crew members only learned that they were alive when returned to Germany in 1947. I realize that repatriation of POWs was at times a lengthy process for a variety of reasons. I, however, note that there was a U.S. Navy Department public press and radio release dated May 16, 1945 (shortly after V.E. Day) which included this, "Fifty-eight survivors (including the captain) from the U-505's crew of 59 were rescued and imprisoned in the United States." I guess that my question is, "Did the story slip through the cracks and German authorities not get word about the U-505 POWs? BTW, the U-505 became a museum piece in 1954 (Chicago) and there is a fantastic website (kudos to the webmaster) about the U-505 and other U-boat subjects at http://uboatarchive.net/(less)" Despite my question, the book is an excellent read and details that things were more complicated than many are aware of. The heart of the story actually begins in 1931 with more than a little intrigue.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enigma...The definitive work?, 12 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Enigma: The Battle for the Code (Hardcover)
A great deal has been written about Enigma over the years and, because so many of the major players are no longer with us, I can't imagine that any significant additions can be added to the story outlined here. I found the book anecdotal, dramatic and accessible. The author's journalistic background has obviously helped here! This is not dry history but a journey through the greatest story of WWII. The only criticism that I can level at this book is that it does not go into enough detail in places (especially with regard to the Army and Air Force Enigma battles). The Naval Enigma however is given the full treatment. Despite only giving the book 4 stars I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hard going at times, but very entertaining, 3 Aug 2006
By 
Amazon Customer (Bournemouth, Dorset) - See all my reviews
The book at times could be hard going, especially when reading the deciphering codes. But it was very entertaining and gave a very good insight into just how many different countries and people that were involved. There were so many people who risked their lives and were lucky to get away with it. A must for anyone, I am not a huge follower of war stories generally, but it was well worth the time to read it, the research that took place was immense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written account of WW2 Intelligence work, 16 Sep 2013
By 
Mr. M. Herbert "Bowmore" (Scotland uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enigma: The Battle for the Code (Hardcover)
This subject is already popularised in many forms, books, DVD's, movies etc., but this account, by Seabag-Montefiore excels the lot. It is well written, clear, detailed, very readable and in a style which holds the readers attention. This a full account of the Enigma code, especially just how it was broken, the colourful characters involved and the political acuity of vision which put it so wisely to good use. Great book by a great, knowlegeable, competent author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete picture, 30 July 2013
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This book leaves no stone unturned and is probably as near as we will get to a definitive record of Enigma and the work at Bletchley Park during WW2.
The details of the code breaking techniques described the appendices are very well presented and totally absorbing. This is a must read book for those interested in WW2 history
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True story of the heroic efforts to capture and break Enigma, 1 Aug 2000
This review is from: Enigma: The Battle for the Code (Hardcover)
A wonderfully written story detailing the complete story that is "Enigma". The author has used archive material not previously seen or released to give us an accurate and authentic history of this fascinating subject. Careful and diligent research and a genuine interest in his subject has led the author to give us detailed descriptions of the people involved, the problems encountered by the "codebreakers" employed at Bletchley Park and their incredible efforts to overcome them. We see how breaking the code gave the Allies the advantage it needed to stay one step ahead of the U-Boat packs allowing the much needed Supply Convoys through the blockade to Britain. In all the story shows the reader that there is so much more to this story than originally meets the eye. It pays a fitting tribute to those brave people who sacrificed so much, whose selfless actions allowed others to ensure an Allied victory. Fantastic.
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Enigma: The Battle for the Code
Enigma: The Battle for the Code by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore (Hardcover - 25 May 2000)
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