- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker’s War 1941–1945 Paperback – 18 Oct 1999
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Twenty-three is awfully young to find yourself with the power of life and death...Leo Marks failed the examination to go and work on codes at Bletchley by being just too good and too much of a smart aleck. Instead, he was imposed on a not entirely willing Special Operations Executive (SOE) to teach coding to agents dropped into Europe and to decode the sometimes indecipherable messages they sent back at great risk to their lives. His speeches to his staff on the mortal danger of slowness or carelessness are classics of guilt-tripping. Absence of mistakes made him suspect that the Germans had captured SOE's Dutch agents--his youth and personality meant that his superiors were slow to believe him. In his spare time, he revolutionized cryptography by inventing one-time-only pads, and wrote poems for agents to use as keys--including the poem associated with Violette Szabo, "Odette".
This is a moving memoir of the agents like Odette and Noor Inayat Khan, whose fates we already know and whom he tried in vain to protect. This is a powerful memoir of war, responsibility and guilt; Marks, hitherto famous as screenwriter on Peeping Tom and son of the 84 Charing Cross Road family, has written a classic. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Martin Scorsese "Between Silk and Cyanide" is a mesmerizing account of World War II as fought on the home front in Great Britain by the ingenious codemakers whose work determined the life and death of the Allied agents in occupied Europe. Leo Marks, a brilliant cryptographer, is a masterful and passionate storyteller. I was immediately swept into his secret world of codes and "undecipherables," trying at times (without success) to unravel the puzzles myself, and found it difficult to put down the book until the drama had come to an end. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Combining his own recollections of how he spent most of the war in the SOE, doing things he had specifically been told not to do by his superiors, and the gripping and moving tale of how Captain Yeo-Thomas (better known as The White Rabbit) was caught by the Gestapo, there's more than enough to satisfy any reader.
What more can I say? I've already bought it 7 times more as gifts!
This original book by Leo Marks is about his wartime career in the Special Operations Executive and images of some of its agents are used on the cover. He was not a field agent as were most of its personnel but a backroom boffin. Coming from a family business of antiquarian booksellers in London's Charing Cross Road, he was a self-taught cryptographer of considerable skill although then only 22 years old and an amateur unlike the cryptanalysts working at Bletchley Park who were mostly Maths graduates from the major universities, PhDs or professors in Maths or Physics.
Although there are many other factual books about SOE they tend to be about its field agents, some of whose names became known post-war, and their operations; the backroom functions such as those of the cryptographer or the designers of the specialised tools, radios and devices used by the agents tend to be often overlooked. Without those backroom personnel SOE's functionality would have been rather limited and many of their tasks made more difficult or impossible. There are also other books about cryptography but they are mostly theoretical and few are similar in content to this.
There are a few included illustrations but they have relevance and do not overload or detract from the author's story. For its different insight into SOE, backroom rather than frontline, this could be a valuable addition to a collection of wartime histories. It would also complement any other book or books that cover SOE's fieldwork, or indeed, cryptography.
A very different take on its subjects and a very worthwhile addition to a book collection. It does not rely upon mathematical theory and is therefore very user-friendly.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews