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Ultra Goes to War Paperback – 21 Feb 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)
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Product description

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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Format: Paperback
This book is a "must read" for people who have an interest in the codebreaking operations that took place at Bletchley Park during World War II. The author is well researched, and sets the historical background to operation Ultra in a precise manner, thus aiding the reader's understanding of the crucial task undertaken by the codebreakers at such a crucial stage of the conflict in Europe. The creation of the vast network of evaluation and dissemination of military information that Ultra produced is also explained, and good reference is made to landmark events, such as the British warnings given to Stalin on the imminent German invasion (which he readily ignored) as well as the myth of the British sacrificing the city of Coventry for the sake of Ultra in the Luftwaffe's operation "Moonlight Sonata".
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a very balanced story of the engima. Well researched.
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Format: Paperback
A topic that could have been boring or at least difficult to write and read is here exposed in a vivid writing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The battle is the payoff" 11 July 2016
By Alan Bertaux - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fabulous record of WWII British intelligence's tour de force. I had but a general idea on how this relatively small group of cipher specialists contributed so enormously to allied victory. It was high time that these folks, so long kept in the shadow of big military names, finally got the recognition they so truly deserved. I for one owe my freedom to these men and women.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Way to detailed for me 13 Aug. 2016
By j'aimelire - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Way to detailed for me. Difficult read... complicated topic in itself however, the way it is written does not help... I have a sense that the author put too much emphasis on this tool as the means of winning the war... seems . However, gave me the motivation to investigate Churchil to check if indeed, this secret tool was so useful during the WW2.
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich in technical detail 3 Sept. 2016
By Ian Baines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent account of the strategic and tactical use of Ultra decrypts. Required reading to understand how Ultra intelligence was actually used. Densely packed but a fascinating read
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Venerable classic 24 Jun. 2009
By Metallurgist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This review was based on the out-of-print hard-cover version. It is nice to see that it has been reissued as a paperback.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical non-fiction at its very best! 31 May 2015
By aky13 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well researched and documented book tells the story of the Enigma machine and the valiant people who worked day and night to break enemy codes to help us win World War II. If you have read "Enigma," or seen "The Imitation Game," you have tiny bits and pieces of the story. This book presents the entire story. It is well written, fascinating, and wonderful to read. BTW, one of the many people who worked on "Ultra," as the secret decrypts were known, later became a United States Supreme Court Justice! Although not relevant to a review of the book, if you are in the Washington, D.C. area, there is an awesome museum that is "off the beaten path" where you can see one of the actual Enigma machines. It is the National Cryptologic Museum, next door to and operated by retired employees of the NSA:

https://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/museum/
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