Mundy skillfully interweaves the history of the war and the evolution of modern military intelligence with the daily lives of the women who were racing to decipher the messages of the enemy, while dealing with bureaucratic rivalries, administrative sexism, romance and heartbreak on the home front ... We owe Mundy gratitude for rescuing these hidden figures from obscurity. Even more valuable is her challenge to the myth of the eccentric, inspired, solitary male genius, like Alan Turing. As Mundy demonstrates, code-breaking in World War II 'was a gigantic team effort,' and 'genius itself is often a collective phenomenon.' Codes were broken by the patient labor of groups of people 'trading pieces of things they have learned and noticed and collected.' I suspect there are more stories of hidden figures waiting to be told. But in writing this book, Mundy has broken some of the codes that kept them hidden for so long.
...[a] detailed, fascinating, and sometimes infuriating book, which does much to close that gap in military history ... Some of the 20-something women in the story are downright brilliant in their ability to stare down a code puzzle. But they are also funny, family-oriented, friendly — a wonderful mix of youthful light-heartedness and dedication to the fight. Mundy displays a gift for creating both human portraits and intensely satisfying scenes ... In the end, Mundy’s story is one of women and men, bound together by their wish to serve the country, working side by side as equals, temporary but real. And in that picture is more than a marvel of patriotic effort. It’s a reminder that side-by-side as equals is who we are at our best — and how we do our best.
...prodigiously researched and engrossing … Mundy’s narrative turns thrilling as she chronicles the eureka moments when the women succeed in cracking codes, relying on a mixture of mathematical expertise, memorization and occasional leaps of intuition … Mundy paints a vivid portrait of the daily lives of these energetic single young women — the upheaval and challenges of adjusting to the high-pressure military environment, the condescension and sexism from male colleagues and superiors, the cramped living quarters, the constant anxiety over brothers and boyfriends in harm’s way, the wartime romances, weekend high jinks and stress-related breakdowns … Thanks to Mundy’s book, which deftly conveys both the puzzle-solving complexities and the emotion and drama of this era, their stories will live on.