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subject matter captivating, writing poor, author's "point of view" intrudes
on 30 April 2012
The whole code-breaking, history of computing, history of Bletchley Park needs to be remembered. I've followed the technical stuff for some time and was pleased to see something that looked like a social history.
The content came through: how different social strata came together, worked together, played together along with how the relationship of the work and the workers fitted to the war effort and society at large.
Which is just as well, because while it seems that the author has undertaken a deal of research, the preparation of the material was lazy, e.g., you will read a lot about Mimi Gallilee, who seems to have joined up when she was 13 or was it 14, and later on we read "as 16 yr old Mimi Gallilee said..." perhaps we got to read too much about her age. Suddenly Sarah Baring became the Hon Sarah Baring which contrasts with her being the primary source for suggesting that the occupants were not particularly status conscious (p172). The narrative is disorganised and repetitive. It is over written: "diamond sharp minds" "waves of anger" "German marauders" as a sample. On top the author brings his own point of view intrudes with unsupported assertions on sexual attitudes according to class (the working classes and upper classes put it about, the middle classes had reputations to protect, those in the countryside were more likely to be at it; all that space) and opinions about international relations - apparently "a close relationship between UK/USA forged during WWII has become one of the "abiding assumptions of our political landscape". We had a "pluck that earned the admiration of Uncle Sam", (did I mention over writing?). And apparently the war "it is believed" shifted the relationship irrevocably to mutual respect...
For all that and the constant quoting of the aforesaid Mimi it's well worth the read.