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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting under the skin of Bletchley
By writing about the people at Bletchley, Asa Briggs has brought it to life and made it all the more extraordinary and interesting. This is a wonderful account of life there with a historian's perspective of who really did what. I thought there was nothing left to know about Bletchley, having read so many other books about it, but this one is different. I heartily...
Published on 17 Jun 2011 by Christopher Ward

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - but not startling
I have read Asa Briggs for many years, and also am keen an the subject of Intelligence and 'the Enigma story'. I snapped this book up and read it over a couple of evenings. The book is worthy, but takes some time to warm-up. The introduction does provide a useful overview of the literature relating to Bletchley Park (BP), but the first chapter is rather dry in its...
Published on 6 Jan 2012 by Mal Military Man


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - but not startling, 6 Jan 2012
This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
I have read Asa Briggs for many years, and also am keen an the subject of Intelligence and 'the Enigma story'. I snapped this book up and read it over a couple of evenings. The book is worthy, but takes some time to warm-up. The introduction does provide a useful overview of the literature relating to Bletchley Park (BP), but the first chapter is rather dry in its exploration of Oxbridge entrants to BP. However, the book gets going when Briggs places himself at the centre of the action and the reader gets a wonderfully colourful view of life in Hut Six and the characters that inhabited it. In summary, all the component parts are here for a really fine read, but the final product is all rather arid in parts.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 29 Jan 2012
By 
Paula Arthur (East Sussex) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
Whilst Briggs sets out his three objectives in a long rambling introduction, I am afraid this book fails on all accounts. Firstly, his personal memoirs are very sketchy. I cannot believe that so many intelligent and sometimes eccentric young people didn't have any fun. We are shown am-dram programmes,dance tickets etc but nothing to put any bones on the relics. Secondly, his reviews of the books written about Bletchley (BP) are almost limited to a list. I suppose that is OK if one is looking for sources for research, but since I was hoping for objective, short, pithy reviews once again it failed. As to answering the final objective as to why historians were of use at BP, since I was not given even the sketchiest idea of what he was doing, that failed too. Nor did I learn to what extent the role of BP either exceeded or supplemented that of other intelligence gathering activities. I expected that of a renowned historian. I kept turning the pages in the hope that I would find something new, fascinating, interesting or amusing. What I did find was how many men and women who went on to hold high positions in most walks of life were based at BP for some time in the war. But again, there was so little about them as people rather than post holders after the war that this became more akin to name-dropping. Finally, my partner - a mathematician and physicist - gave up after chapter one.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting under the skin of Bletchley, 17 Jun 2011
By 
Christopher Ward (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
By writing about the people at Bletchley, Asa Briggs has brought it to life and made it all the more extraordinary and interesting. This is a wonderful account of life there with a historian's perspective of who really did what. I thought there was nothing left to know about Bletchley, having read so many other books about it, but this one is different. I heartily recommend it. How lucky we were having such brilliant minds, as well as brave hearts, to defeat the Nazis. Christopher Ward
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 9 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
Asa Briggs writes mainly about the people he knew there, which university they vame from,who knew everybody
else,who they were connected with and what their parents did, If you are a member of the Oxon/Cantab mafia
you will find it interesting. I wanted more about the actual work they did which had not been civered in other books.
J.C.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars hard to read, 20 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
Asa Briggs' writing style is very hard for me to read, long sentences, sometimes with sub clauses that mean I am reading it slowly. It is not a writing style that races along or keeps your (MY) attention. It is more work than pleasure to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice guy could do better, 28 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
I bought this book full of expectation. Sadly it was not to be. In the mid-1970s I worked with someone who had previously worked at BP, and whilst she told me little about what happened, notwithstanding F.W. Winterbottom's book had already been published, she did tell me more than I found it in the book. In fact not much of the book covers BP.

I was definitely hoping for more from such a contributor as Asa Briggs.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy it!, 4 May 2012
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This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
The reputation of Asa Briggs, as distinguished historian and academic, persuaded me to buy this book and ignore the critical reviews. I expected an authoritative insight into the workings of Bletchley Park. I was sadly mistaken. The book entirely lacks purposeful or coherent narrative and there is little telling detail or humour.
Indeed, much of it is not about the workings of Bletchley Park at all. There are much better books available and they are listed, ironically, in the excellent bibliography.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointed., 4 May 2012
This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
I have recently completed this 'historical' account by Asa Briggs, which I purchased with much optimism. Sadly, my expectations were not met and the book fell well below the standard I expected of both the topic and the scholar. The intention to provide a human insight into BP (as we must now call it) and its work, while worthy, was not realized. What we had was a bit of a pot boiler of ramblings, the like of which might arise after the second passing of the port. The book failed on two counts: it was not sufficiently robust to stand up as a historical account or sufficiently sharply observed to reveal the people behind the cryptography. Very poor.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing more than a namedropfest, 11 Feb 2012
This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
If you want to learn about how codes and ciphers were broken at Bletchley, don't go anywhere near this book. Asa Brigg's title is a complete misnoner. The book is quite simply a namedropfest of the highest order. "I was there at such-a-time with So-And-So who knew Thingummy who was at university with Whatzisname, who had a fling with Forgetername". And it goes like this ... on... and on ... and on.

Really I expected some serious work from such a well know historian as Asa Briggs, not this pile of junk. The book's title is a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act.

Complete tosh. Can I have my money back, please?
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important piece of work, 31 May 2011
This review is from: Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine (Hardcover)
Thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of Asa Briggs life at Bletchley. It definitely adds something new to this relatively new historical area. Testimony to the man that he kept his work there a secret even from his parents!
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