- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Pen & Sword Military; Reprint edition (21 Feb. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 184415663X
- ISBN-13: 978-1844156634
- Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 818,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Ultra Goes to War Paperback – 21 Feb 2008
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About the Author
The late Ronald Lewin served as an officer in the Royal Artillery with the Eighth Army in Africa, and in Europe from Normandy to Germany. His publications include studies of Rommel and Montgomery.
Max Hastings is the author of "Overlord" and "Bomber Command" and the coauthor of "Battle for the Falklands." Editor of "The Daily Telegraph, " he lives in London, England.
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Top Customer Reviews
Unlike any other history book, the storytelling in this book unfolds in such an exciting manner, that it guarantees to keep you reading well into the early morning hours.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book was originally published thirty years ago, just a few years after the information concerning the breaking of the German Enigma cipher machine was made public. It was one of the first books to look at the impact of this breakthrough on the Western European aspects of WWII. It does not describe any of the actual code breaking per se, only the important influence that this had on the war.
Given that the book is thirty years old and that newer books covering the Enigma cipher and the Ultra secret have been published, one can reasonably ask why they should invest time on this book. I think that this book is useful because:
1. It is the classic source that many other books reference
2. Being written 25 years after the end of the war, the author had a very important perspective and was allowed to interview many of the participants. Twenty five to forty years is, in my opinion, the best time frame to write a history of any event. Twenty-five years gives some time for emotions to cool and allow for a more dispassionate look at events (a little longer is even better). Unfortunately, after 40 years many of the senior participants are dead, making interviews impossible. Thus, this book was written at the beginning of this critical period. Books written today must rely on previously published books (like this one) and on dairies, manuscripts and archives.
3. I have read a number of the more recent books concerning the Ultra secret but I have still learned new things from this book. For instance, I learned that the Colossus computer was developed not to break the Enigma code, but to break a sophisticated radio-teletype code. The book makes it clear the B-Dienst (a German code breaking group) broke the British convoy code but not the British Naval cipher (some books make it seem as if B-Dienst broke all of the British codes). There is a very nice chapter on the Special Liaison Units and the process by which Enigma decrypts were disseminated, while still keeping secret he fact that the Enigma code was broken.
I recommend this book for those interested in the history of WWII, but this is not the book for you if you are primarily interested in how the Enigma cipher was broken. If that is you primary interest, I recommend Budiansky's "Battle of Wits" and "Enigma" by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore (which focuses on the capture of code machines and code books, but also has information about the code breaking process, but not quite as much as Budiansky's book). I give the book 4 stars instead of five because it is a bit dated and because of the lack of this code breaking information.