Thursday, May 3, 2018

Code Girls

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers in World War II by Liza Mundy  416 pp.

At the start of World War II over ten thousand mostly young women were recruited from colleges, schools, and libraries to become codebreakers for the Army & Navy. These women descended on Washington, D.C. to spend hours meticulously scanning intercepted messages for patterns that could lead to breaking the codes used by the Axis powers. Housing was sparse and in many cases the women were housed in flimsy buildings thrown up quickly, attics and basements of homes in the area, and a few even lived behind storefronts. It wasn't uncommon for women to "hot bed" which meant the same bed was constantly in use by women who worked different shifts living in the same apartment. The units worked in shifts, 24/7 to provide information to those on the front and planning major offensives. The women working in the cryptography units were dedicated and hard working. They took their vow of secrecy seriously, refusing to tell even fellow codebreakers what they were working on. Some held that vow of silence until their deaths, never revealing them to family members. Mundy does a good job of blending detailed facts about the work with the personal stories of some of the women who helped bring about victories in Europe and Japan.

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