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20 of 21 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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21 of 23 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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20 of 21 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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21 of 23 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
(VINE VOICE)   
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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11 of 12 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
By 
Alan Eager (Charleston, SC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply great reading, 1 Nov 2010
By 
A. Bigoni - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is another enjoyble reading, follwing the other one: "Station X".

Although I am start reading now this book, after a speedy delivery by BookLogic (received after one week in Italy), I have been captured since the first pages and so it will be for the next ones.

My advice is: reading this one and Station X. The latter is telleing much moore about the life inside Bletchley Park and how they spent their years inside there, an laternating moments of frustrations followed by great happiness every time that they broke a secret German Code.

So,

enjoy the Reading!
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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
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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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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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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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
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's meticulous "Enigma", 10 Dec 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Hugh Sebag-Montefiore is a punctilious and meticulous historian able to delve into the many recently opened sources (at time of publication) and build a fascinating and creditable narrative from the many thousands of references and pieces of information garnered from them. This is not a skill all writers have but it makes this lengthy book (600 pages) very readable.

It is a fascinating period which is only just coming to light with the opening of many previously secret records and which, as the film U-571 showed, is open to misinterpretation, theft and colusion. In the cold and dingy pre-fabs of Bletchley Park or the much more threatening cold of the North Atlantic, the battle for the code raged.

For anyone interested in this vitally fundamental element in winning the last war, this is essential reading. I read it for more information on Alan Turing and gained so much more too.

Recommended
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wide-ranging, thorough and readable, 13 May 2002
By A Customer
This seems to be a thorough account of the Enigma story. Sebag-Montefiore is careful to cover, not only the Bletchley Park side of things, but the other people and organisations involved.
Before I read this, I thought that Enigma was cracked just once and that it was solely down to Turing and his team. In fact, the Poles broke an earlier version years before Bletchley was operational, and changes in the procedure throughout the war meant that the Allies had to race to keep up.
Naval engagements where Enigma materials were captured also played a crucial role in keeping the Allies one step ahead.
In fact, if I had a criticism of the book, it is that the author is more comfortable recounting naval engagements than the technical details of the code-breaking. The Appendices with thorough explanations of how Enigma worked and how it was broken are clear, but a bit stilted, often reading like a verbose translation from mathematics rather than a true layman's account. If you are not interested in the details, you can happily skip the Appendices and read the book as an adventure story.
I was also surprised that there wasn't room for a slightly more detailed account of Turing's later achievements and his persecution due to his sexuality.
If you already have a thorough knowledge of the subject, you may find this worth reading anyway, as the author seems to have found some new evidence and perspectives and integrates many sources in a very readable way. I would definitely recommend this book if you are interested in learning about the code-breaking or just want to read an exciting true-life tale.
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Enigma: The Battle for the Code
Enigma: The Battle for the Code by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore (Hardcover - 2006)
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