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The Woman Who Smashed Codes : A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies
by Jason Fagone




Overview -

National Bestseller

NPR Best Book of the Year

"Not all superheroes wear capes, and Elizebeth Smith Friedman should be the subject of a future Wonder Woman movie." --The New York Times

Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II.

In 1916, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the Adam and Eve of the NSA, Elizebeth's story, incredibly, has never been told.

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation's history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler's Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma--and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Fagone unveils America's code-breaking history through the prism of Smith's life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson's bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is page-turning popular history at its finest.

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More About The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

 
 
 

Overview

National Bestseller

NPR Best Book of the Year

"Not all superheroes wear capes, and Elizebeth Smith Friedman should be the subject of a future Wonder Woman movie." --The New York Times

Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II.

In 1916, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the Adam and Eve of the NSA, Elizebeth's story, incredibly, has never been told.

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation's history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler's Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma--and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Fagone unveils America's code-breaking history through the prism of Smith's life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson's bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is page-turning popular history at its finest.


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062430519
  • ISBN-10: 0062430513
  • Publisher: Dey Street Books
  • Publish Date: August 2018
  • Page Count: 464
  • Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Book clubs: New in paperback

Jason Fagone’s The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies documents the remarkable life of Elizebeth Smith, a Shakespearean scholar who was instrumental in the development of cryptology and, later, its use during World War II. In the Prohibition era, Smith employed her expertise to nab bootleggers, but with the arrival of the war, Smith and her husband, cryptologist William Friedman, employed the science to decipher codes used by the Germans and the Japanese. Fagone does a wonderful job of explaining the fundamentals of cryptology, and he captures the tension that Smith and Friedman experienced as they took on the demands of covert assignments. Spanning both world wars as it traces the course of Smith’s amazing career and the development of her work, Fagone’s fascinating book will beguile history buffs and suspense fans as both an intriguing tale of espionage and a compassionate chronicle of a marriage.

A CLOISTERED LIFE
A poignant story of the power of family and the resilience of the human spirit, Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour takes place in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. Pregnant and alone, Annie, an Irish immigrant whose husband has committed suicide, goes to work in the laundry at the convent of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor. When Annie gives birth to a daughter, Sally, the nuns assist her with the upbringing of the child. Following Sally through her teenage years and beyond, as she joins the church and helps the sisters tend to the needy, the novel offers an unforgettable look at the lives of the city’s struggling residents and the nature of faith. This is the eighth book from National Book Award winner McDermott, and as always, her prose is luminous, and her ability to convincingly portray a wide cast of characters brings a wonderful authenticity to the book. Chosen by Time as one of their “Top 10 Novels of 2017,” this is a moving work from one of the nation’s most important writers.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
With In the Midst of Winter, Isabel Allende delivers a searing novel about the unexpected bond that arises between three unlikely companions after they become embroiled in a murder. During a blizzard that pummels Brooklyn, university professor Richard Bowmaster is involved in a car crash with Evelyn Ortega, an undocumented Guatemalan woman working as a nanny. The collision has serious repercussions (involving a dead body) for Evelyn, who soon arrives, terrified, at Richard’s apartment. For help in dealing with the desperate woman, Richard enlists Lucia Maraz, a fellow academic from Chile. When they learn about Evelyn’s past and the violence that tore her family apart, they take steps to assist her. Their remarkable plan makes the book something of a thriller—one that’s marked by hints of romance and Allende’s wise insights into the human heart. This compelling and timely novel—Allende’s 21st—finds the author at the top of her game.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 

BAM Customer Reviews