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Enigma: The Battle For The Code (Cassell Military Paperbacks) by [Sebag-Montefiore, Hugh]
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Enigma: The Battle For The Code (Cassell Military Paperbacks) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Length: 566 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Amazon Review

Timing is all but even Hugh Sebag-Montefiore could hardly have dreamed when he started researching this book four years ago that its publication would coincide with the release of the Hollywood blockbuster U-571. The film claims that it was the Americans "wot won the war" through the bravery of two of its sailors who climbed aboard the crippled sub and made off with an Enigma machine and assorted codebooks before it sank. But then Hollywood has never let the facts get in the way of a good profit. As Sebag-Montefiore points out it was a British officer, Francis Fasson, together with Able Seaman, Colin Grazier, who climbed down the turret of U-559 to retrieve the codebooks and, furthermore, their capture was only a small, if important, part of the Enigma story. However, this book is neither an exercise in point scoring nor full of dramatic new revelations. Its purpose is to chart the entire Enigma history from 1931, when a cipher officer, named Hans Thilo Schmidt, working in the German Defence Ministry, first passed secrets of the code to the French to the end of the War. As such it is extremely welcome. There have been a fair number of books on various parts of the Enigma story--not least the work of Alan Turing and the Bletchley Park boffins--but there have been few that have so thoroughly charted the early years of the 1930s when Polish cryptographers battled to read Enigma messages. Thus Enigma becomes part of an ongoing story, not something just bolted on to a dramatic narrative of the Second World War. Sebag-Montefiore has unearthed a few new primary sources, who add colour and insight rather than anything new, but he does have an engagingly easy style not found among many historians and the book is an extremely accessible read. For all its thoroughness, though, there are some things that the author cannot explain. Why did the Germans not realise the code was broken when all the evidence pointed that way? And how did Enigma work? Sebag-Montefiore devotes a lengthy appendix to a simplified explanation of the latter--but this reader is still none the wiser. Maybe some things will always remain a mystery. --John Crace

Review

"In a crowd of books dealing with the Allied breaking of the World War II German cipher machine Enigma, Hugh Sebag–Montifiore has scored a scoop."
––The Washington Post


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5728 KB
  • Print Length: 566 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0304366625
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; New Ed edition (21 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005AVJ0G4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #29,849 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

Top customer reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being reader of all military I found the book well written and informative the area covering the principle people was enlightening.I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in military history.
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Format: Paperback
I read this for the second time recently, and could only write a review after reading other accounts in the meantime.
This book is a significant 'heart-breaker' for anyone who ever thought that Turing was almost singly responsible for breaking it, or that Enigma was only encountered from 1939. The fact that the Polish had been going after it since the early 30s., might come as a shock to some people.

In itself, the Book is a fascinating account of what was the build-up to being able to decipher it all. However, I found that a lot of the Chapters danced back and forth in time throughout, which made it difficult to relate to them all in chronological order, so the picture became blurred.

Just as in all the other Books, there is absolutely NO mention of WHO actually created this ingenious Beast of a Machine, or even ANY attempts to find him / they who developed it. THAT seems to be, so far, the most closely-guarded Secret of all, and something that Hollywood and Pinewood could never imagine of bringing to the big screen !!

If you jump forward to today, you may wonder, as often as I do, what method or code is used to encipher our e-mails, on-line Bank transactions, Amazon orders and details or anything even vaguely like them. Unscrupulous people have infiltrated them already, but make that fact openly and blatantly obvious. That's ONE thing Bletchley Park could not afford to do. If breaking Enigma was difficult enough, then keeping it a Secret was even MORE difficult. How many lives were knowingly sacrificed to keep that Secret?
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Format: Paperback
Having read "Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boat Codes, 1933-1945", have purchased this book to read in depth, about how the boffins got the material to work with, as that book was more about solving how to break the Code, with short interludes about how the machines and code books were sourced. The cover of "Seizing the Enigma" is misleading as it gives the impression that it is a story of the Navies part in the breaking of the code, which is not the aim of the Book, which is more a story about the work of Bletchley Park.
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Format: Paperback
The cracking of the German Naval Enigma codes was a key turning point of WW2, but until the original publication of this book back in 2000, the complete story hadn't been told.

Whilst the contribution of Alan Turing and his fellow code-breakers at Bletchley Park was considerable, the exploits of spies, naval officers and ordinary British seamen also played a major part.

Indeed, the story dates back to 1932 when the Polish cracked the German Airforce Enigma, although they considered the more complicated Navy Enigma to be unbreakable. When WW2 broke out, they handed this information to the British, which was an important starting point.

Updated for the 70th anniversary of the Enigma breakthrough with new material, this is a dense but involving account which pays due tribute to the many people who lost their lives ensuring that Bletchley Park was supplied with the intelligence they needed to crack the code.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The effort to break Enigma spanned a decade involved many individuals and is covered here in much better detail some other work.

The true story of Enigma at first top secret, then the stuff of legend has the habit of going through some changes. Robert Harris's "Enigma" and Hollywoods "U-571" and most recently "The Imitation Game" all make for good entertainment, but the real story seems to continue to be elusive.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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