Battle of Wits

Author(s): Stephen Budiansky

Second World War

A million pages of new World War II codebreaking records have been released by the U.S. Army and Navy and the British government over the last five years. Now, Battle of Wits presents the history of the war that these documents reveal. From the battle of Midway until the last German code was broken in January 1945, this is an astonishing epic of a war that was won not simply by brute strength but also by reading the enemy's intentions.
The revelations of Stephen Budiansky's dramatic history include how Britain tried to manipulate the American codebreakers and monopolize German Enigma code communications; the first detailed published explanations of how the Japanese codes were broken; and how the American codebreaking machines worked to crack the Japanese, the German, and even the Russian diplomatic codes. The compelling narrative shows the crucial effect codebreaking had on the battlefields by explaining the urgency of stopping the wolf pack U-boat attacks in the North Atlantic, the importance of halting Rommel's tanks in North Africa, and the necessity of ensuring that the Germans believed the Allies' audacious deception and cover plans for D-Day. Unveiled for the first time, the complete story of codebreaking in World War II has now been told.


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Stephen Budiansky is the author of four highly acclaimed books: THE COVENANT OF THE WILD, NATURE'S KEEPERS, THE NATURE OF HORSES and IF A LION COULD TALK. The first two were shortlisted for the Rhone-Poulenc Award. He lives in Virginia.

Part 1 "No good, not even for intelligence": the end of the black chamber; William F. Friedman picks up the pieces; "I had the good sense to get out of it!"; room 40; Winston Churchill, an early convert; the Foreign Office, a late convert; the Soviet intercepts; a strategic future for intelligence. Part 2 Nature of the beast: the birth of codebreaking; machine ciphers, Poland and the Enigma; depth reading; the distinct limitations of thievery; solving the red machine. Part 3 "Il y a du nouveau": 1939, a dark new year; meeting at Pyry Forest; Marian Rejewski's mathematical feat; recovering the daily Enigma keys; Alan Turing and other "men of the professor type"; Bletchley Park; the Poles' flight. Part 4 Fighting back: British mathematicians vs. the Enigma; the bombe takes shape; "a pile of dull, disjointed and enigmatic scraps"; cryptanalytic talent; Norway and yellow; France and red; HMS Glorious. Part 5 Impossible problems: the sinking of U-33; naval Enigma and the bombe; operation Ruthless and other straws; American isolationism; purple; the British charm offensive; a mission to Bletchley, bearing gifts. Part 6 Success breeds success: the Blitz; Cape Matapan; Boniface, Barbarossa and Bismarck; naval Enigma, U-110 and the trawler pinches; the eastern front and German atrocities; Trafalgar Day; cribs and continuity. Part 7 The machines: the British make polite noises; IBM machines and JN-25; the machine attack on Floradora; Washington at war; military vs. civilians; an American ultimatum; better bombes; high-speed analyzers. Part 8 Paranoia is our profession: Donitz's suspicions; the evacuation of Corregidor; the Midway leak; some bungled operations; "do not talk at meals"; suspicions among friends. Part 9 The shadow war: calling the shots in the Mediterranean; Torch and deception; the flight from Vichy; Atlantic convoys; U-559 and the breaking of Shark; the hunt for leaks; the American invasion; pressure and diversions; women in uniform. Part 10 Command of the ether: Russian espionage and project Venona; GEE and fish; masters of deception; Yamamoto; the Water Transport code; failure in the Ardennes; signalling the end. Part 11 Epilogue: legacy. Appendices: chronology; naval enigma - its indicating system and the method of "banburismus"; cryptanalysis of the purple machine; the intercept network; rapid analytical machinery (RAM).

General Fields

  • : 9780140281057SECA
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : October 2001
  • : 198mm X 128mm X 30mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 16pp b&w photographs, 5 maps, notes, bibliography, index
  • : Stephen Budiansky
  • : Paperback
  • : New edition
  • : 940.54/85
  • : 448